Since the nation is effectively locked down because of the Coronavirus, fewer vehicles will be on American roads in April 2020 than at any other time in modern history. Even so, April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. I didn’t spend much time behind the wheel of a car even before COVID-19. It’s difficult to drive without opposable thumbs. Allow us to take advantage of this time of reflection to share the myriad reasons you should drive free from distraction when you are back on the open road (or before then – when you head to the store during the quarantine to stock up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer and dog treats).
What Constitutes Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is defined as any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on a phone; eating and drinking; talking to people in a vehicle that is operational; fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system, playing fetch with your dog, or anything else that takes attention away from the task of safe driving. Experts agree texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with closed eyes. Driving safely is impossible unless the task of driving has the driver’s full attention. Any secondary (non-driving) activity is a potential distraction and increases the risk of crashing.
The Danger of Distraction
Distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves: they’re a danger to everyone else on the road. The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education. Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. I’d also recommend against doing your taxes while driving.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “At any given moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roadways.”
Distracted Driving Statistics
- Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming an average 2,800 lives per year and injuring another 400,000.
- Among those killed in 2018: 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists.
- The National Highway & Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) leads the national effort to save lives by preventing this dangerous behavior.
- The youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk, with 10% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under the age of 20.
- For some reason, all 50 states and the District of Columbia refuse to issue driver’s licenses to dogs. (Just in case you were wondering)
How to End Distracted Driving
- Do it yourself!
No one sets out to drive while distracted. Nonetheless, millions of people do just that. So, one of the best ways to stop the trend is to commit to driving distraction-free whenever you are behind the wheel.
- As a passenger, use positive peer pressure.
Help the driver drive distraction-free. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk or distracted! Just like, in the dog world, friends don’t let friends befriend cats.
- As a parent, model proper behavior.
Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk. Teen drivers won’t do what you say. They’ll copy what you do. Download this Family Safe Driving Agreement for practical ideas.
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