April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Each day in the United States, over 9 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
Each day in the United States, over 9 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.
Distracted driving activities include things like using a cell phone, texting, and eating.
Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.
Some key facts about distracted driving:
- Car accidents are the number one killer of teens.
- Ohio law bans those 18 and younger from using any electronic communications device while driving.
- $13 billion — the estimated cost of distracted driving for Ohioans every year.
Nationwide, an estimated 800,000 peope are texting and driving at any given time, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s about 11% of drivers. About 20% of drivers admit to using a cell phone to surf the Internet while driving, according to an AT&T study.
The problem is even worse among young drivers.
Teens tend to be very attached to their cell phones and most expect an answer to a text or call within less than 5 minutes; that puts pressure on them to always respond right away rather than waiting until it is safe.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 71% of teens admit to composing a text message while driving. Almost 80% of teens admit to reading a text message while driving.
So, texting while driving is fairly common among adults and very common among teens.
Here are some tips to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on the drive:
- First and foremost, turn off your cell phone. Put it in the glove compartment, in your purse or in your trunk. There is no safe way to make a call while driving — not even hands-free.
- Send and read text messages and emails before you start driving.
- If you’re going on a longer drive, schedule breaks to stop, park safely, and respond to messages.
- Using voice features in your car’s infotainment system is also distracting. Take care of communications before you start driving.
- Know where you’re going before you put the car in “drive.” Put your destination into your GPS so you do not need to fiddle with it while the car is moving.
- Social media can wait. No update, tweet or video is worth a life. Do not take selfies or film videos while driving.
- Park in a safe area if you must take a call, return a text or check email.
- Do not call or text friends or family if you know they are driving.
As a general rule, if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of an activity, it is a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while you are behind the wheel.
Amy Petryk is a Registered Nurse who spent 20 years working as a Surgical Intensive Care Nurse at Grant Medical Center where she specialized in management of care for patients who were traumatically injured in motor vehicle accidents. She is currently working as a School Nurse at Granville Intermediate School.