Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | April 22, 2014

Don’t Drive Yourself to Distraction

Woman_Distracted_Driving“One text or call could wreck it all” is the slogan for the 2014 Distracted Driving Awareness campaign, which runs through the month of April. According to Distraction.Gov, in 2012, 3,328 were killed in distracted driving crashes, which makes the practice of driving while doing virtually anything else a dangerous epidemic. I guess that means it isn’t good to eat bacon while driving. Bummer.

Since the most effective way to end distracted driving is education, we are devoting this blog post to inform our friends and subscribers about the hazards of this dangerous practice. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. I guess I should be glad dogs aren’t allowed to drive. It seems tempting to drive while distracted. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. Some of these include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming (Save this for the groomer!)
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video (That includes RJWestmore Training System videos!)
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Although each of the above activities is dangerous while driving, text messaging is the most alarming distraction because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention of the driver.

In support of National Distracted Driving month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has planned a number of activities. The first is a national, highly visible enforcement campaign for distracted driving, called U Drive. U Text. U Pay.  Who knew that avoiding distracted driving can help your budget? Throughout the month of April, public service announcements and commercials will appear in English and Spanish on television, radio and in digital advertising.

Phone in One HandAs one might guess, the age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers is reportedly the under-20 age group. In fact, 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 who are involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. Of those drivers involved in fatal crashes who were reportedly distracted, 30- to 39-year-olds had the highest proportion of cell phone involvement. Kids seem to think they are the exception to the rule. But no one can concentrate when they are distracted.

The NHTSA has also developed a robust social media strategy to raise public awareness about the consequences of texting and driving. Focusing on the idea that “If you’re texting, you’re not driving,” the campaign has been designed to engage the target audience of men and women ages 18-34.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to avoid curling your hair or applying mascara or preparing pork chops while you drive, you may be surprised to learn that even hands-free activities can put you at risk when you’re behind the wheel. According to the National Safety Council and Distraction.Gov:

  • The #1 cause of unintentional deaths in the U.S. is car crashes.
  • About 100 people die each day in car crashes in the United States.
  • Up to 90% of all automobile accidents are a result of driver-error.
  • About 26% of all car crashes involve cellphone use (even hands-free).
  • At any given moment, 9% of drivers are talking on cellphones. That’s why I prefer the Twilight Bark.
  • Although the human brain toggles between two tasks, it cannot do two things at the same time.
  • The activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 1/3 when listening or talking on a phone.
  • Drivers looking out the windshield can miss seeing up to 50% of what’s around them while talking on any kind of a cellphone.
  • New studies show that using voice-to-text is MORE distracting than typing texts by hand. Now, that’s surprising!
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
  • A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

When you drive, remember the Essential Trio of Requirements for Safe Driving include:

  1. Eyes (not paws) on the road
  2. Hands on the wheel
  3. Mind on driving

Paradoxically, passengers do not pose a serious threat to drivers for the following reasons:

  • A passenger is a second set of eyes.
  • Passengers are able to recognize when traffic is challenging, and stop talking as a result.
  • A passenger is able to spot and even point out road hazards.

Now that you understand the risks associated with distracted driving, here is something you can do about it. Take the pledge to keep roadways safe by driving cell-free. Since distracted driving laws vary by state, check out what the regulations are in your region. I’m going to take it. Will you?

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for a disaster of any kind is to be aware. Our system is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

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