The Realities of Distracted Driving
Too many of us are focusing on texts and phone calls, instead of keeping our eyes on the road. Just last year, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 500,000 more were injured in distracted driving-related crashes. But, these aren't statistics. They are children and parents, neighbors and friends.
Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual — taking your eyes off the road
- Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive — taking your mind off what you're doing
While all distractions can endanger drivers' safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction.
Did You Know?
Research on distracted driving reveals some surprising facts:
- In 2008, almost 20 percent of all crashes in the year involved some type of distraction. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—NHTSA).
- Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. (NHTSA)
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
- Using a cell phone while driving, whether it's hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
So, as your commuting student gets in the car each morning, talk with him about distracted driving. As your on-campus student catches rides with friends, talk with her about distracted driving. It's a real issue with tragic consequences. The text or call can wait. It's time to keep our eyes on the road.
Sources: Distraction.gov/stats-and-facts/; Fastlane.dot.gov, 11/16/10
According to Distraction.gov, younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
Other distracting activities include:
- Using a cell phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a PDA or navigation system
- Watching a video
- Changing the radio station, CD, iPod or Mp3 player
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