Distracted Driving Awareness Month
While April was officially Distracted Driving Awareness Month, attentive driving habits should be practiced each time we get behind the wheel, no matter which month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that five seconds of driving distracted is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.1 Also according to NHTSA in 2020, use of a cell phone or texting while driving played a role in 13% of fatal distracted driving accidents.1 Just under 30,000 accidents were the results of distracted driving injury accidents shown by NHTSA data.2
Distracted driving can come in a variety of forms including physical, visual, and mental distractions. Join us in keeping ourselves and others safer on the road by eliminating distractions and being more cognizant while driving with these tips!
- Put it down.
Physical distractions can be anything that takes our hands off the wheel, from phones and takeout food to radios and GPS’s. Typically, physical distractions can ultimately be a combination of all three types of distractions because they not only take our hands, but also our minds and attention away from driving. The Department of Transportation reports that in 2020, 587 nonoccupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists, were killed in distracted-related accidents.3 Not only do physical distractions take our hands away from the wheel, but they also pull our eyes and focus away from the road in front of us.
- It can wait.
The text, email, Facebook post, and phone call can all wait until you are safely at your destination. Not only is typing out a text, post, or email hazardous to your safety and everyone around you, but just simply reading those alerts can also threaten the lives of those on the road. According to AAA, it can take as long as 27 seconds for your eyes to readjust to the road after looking at your phone.2 Engaging with notifications on our cell phones pulls our eyes from the road, thus putting ourselves as well as other drivers at risk. Whatever is on the phone can wait – get there safely.
- Focus on the road.
Mental distractions are those that take our mind off driving, including daydreaming, stress, tiredness, thoughts about work, etc. These types of distractions are just as dangerous as a physical or visual distraction because we are not focused on driving or paying attention to the road ahead of us and the other drivers beside us. It is common now to have hands-free features in vehicles, like voice command and Bluetooth connectivity, but hands-free does not necessarily equate too risk-free. Hertz reports that these convenience features have the potential to create a false sense of security and safety.4 While a driver’s hands may be on the wheel and eyes are on the road, it does not always mean they are mentally present in the driver’s seat.
Each and every time we get behind the wheel, we have a responsibility to ourselves and others to do our part in making the road as safe as possible. Being mindful of all the distractions out there, along with how they affect our driving abilities can help make our role in the car safer. Looking at a text, making a phone call and changing the radio station might seem like minute, insignificant tasks, but they can cause irreversible consequences because they slow our reaction time down immensely. Additionally, distracted driving can also lead to increases in insurance premiums due to traffic tickets and insurance claims. Eliminate distractions on the road this month and months to follow so we all get where we’re going safely!
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