(Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
Americans drive 3.2 trillion miles per year. That’s a lot of miles!Over that same time period, U.S. consumers send 2.2 trillion text messages. That’s a lot of texts!The problem is that many people combine the mutually exclusive activities. The result is as deadly as it is dangerous. Dogs can’t text or drive because we lack opposable thumbs. In our ongoing efforts to promote and share safety-related content, we began a two-part series about the dangers of distracted driving in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The series discusses the risks associated with this dangerous yet popular habit and offers tips to discourage the behavior. Click here to read part one.
In this part 2 of our series, we examine ways to avoid all three forms of distraction, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies as visual, manual or cognitive.
- Visual Tasks
Anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road, such as, checking a GPS monitor or map. If I was driving, the sight of bacon would definitely be a distraction.
- Manual Tasks
Activities such as reaching for a cell phone, eating, drinking, cleaning glasses or anything else that results in the driver removing one or both hands from the steering wheel. Just a crazy idea; if you need to eat, drink or clean your glasses, pull off to the side of the road!
- Cognitive Tasks
Anything that requires drivers to think about something other than driving would fit into this task.
Definition of Distracted Driving
Anything that takes attention away from driving qualifies as a distraction. This includes sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, eating while driving and many more. All of these endanger the driver and passengers as well as anyone else who is on the road with the distracted driver. Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. In fact, sending or reading a text message takes the driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. While that doesn’t sound serious, consider this: Traveling at 55 mph, in five seconds, your vehicle will cover the length of a football field!
10 Tips for Distraction-Free Driving
- Turn off electronic devices or activate the “Do Not Disturb” feature on Android or iPhone.
- Place all electronics out of reach before starting the car. Out of sight, out of mind and out of temptation!
- If you absolutely must use software on your device, program music or navigation information into your phone before you start driving. And if a song you hate comes on, just let it go!
- Make use of systems that are already built into your car. Although speaking commands into your onboard navigation system may take more time than picking up your phone, safety is worth the extra effort.
- Talk with your teens about responsible driving. And be a good role model for young drivers by avoiding distractions while you drive. Kids typically do what you do rather than what you say. At least that’s what we’ve found with our son, JR.
- Speak up if you are a passenger and notice the driver use an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver.
- Always wear your seat belt. While you cannot control the behavior of other drivers on the road, you can do your best to be safe in your own vehicle. Seat belts are the best defense against unsafe drivers.
- If you use your phone as a navigation tool — including the speakerphone function, consider mounting it at eye level.
- Enlist passengers to help. Ask them to answer texts, change audio settings or work the navigation system, when needed.
- Many states prohibit texting while driving. Sounds like a good idea, to me!If you live in such a state, obey the law. If such laws are not yet on the books, start a trend and possibly save a life.
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