Distracted driving: Why we should care?
To begin with, what is distracted driving? Distracted driving is driving while doing any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. At any given daylight moment 660,000 vehicles are being driven by distracted drivers. Each day in the United States more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. All distraction endangers the driver, passengers and bystander safety.
Types of distracted driving:
- Talking on a cellphone or blue tooth
- Using a smartphone, tablet or cell
- Talking to passengers
- Grooming (putting on makeup, brushing hair etc.…)
- Reading (newspaper, maps, books etc…)
- Using a GPS
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player or IPod/ MP3
Many of these distractions are minimal and do not pose a great risk to persons in your car or outside. Texting on the other hand is the one of the most dangerous types of distraction. This is because; it requires the visual, manual and cognitive attention of the driver.
- Visual distracted driving: taking your eyes off the road.
- Manual distracted driving: taking your hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive distracted driving: taking your mind off the act of driving. 
Things like self grooming, reading, using a smart phone or tablet is just as bad because they also distract you visually, manually and cognitively. You can not focus on the road ahead or even see it if you are putting your makeup on in the mirror or trying to read a headline in the paper. With your attention unfocused on your vehicle you will drift to one side or the other and often cross the lane barrier, putting yourself, pedestrians and cars in the other lane in danger. The probability that you will recognize that car in front of you is about to stop or turn suddenly is greatly diminished. Not to mention when you do notice your reaction time is slowed. How many times have you almost hit someone or something because you got distracted for a moment? It is inevitable that at some point our attention may wander but there is no need to increase the phenomenon by engaging in distracting activities while behind the wheel.
Although the issue is more acute in younger drivers it is a problem across the board. In 2011 at least 23% of all auto collisions involved a cell phone. 34% of all Americans say they have texted while driving. 48% of children age 12-17 have been in a vehicle while the driver was texting. 15% say they have seen their parent’s text and drive. Massachusetts has attempted to address the issue by passing a law that:
- Bans all cell phone use (handheld or hands-free) for novice (under 18) drivers.
- Bans texting for all drivers.
Laws are not enough to truly stop this problem, individuals need to take personal responsibility and stop texting and pay attention! We must make a concerted effort to put distractions aside when we get behind the wheel. There are many ways to do this, from putting your purse or brief case in the trunk, to apps that answer messages for you saying you are driving. Simply things like getting your IPod or MP3 queued up to play before you turn the key or pulling over to eat your burger. They may seem easy but they can make a huge difference. There are even apps that detect when a person is in a car and automatically disable their phone. No matter what methods you use it is imperative to all our safety that drivers are focused on driving when they are behind the wheel.
Here are a few safe driving apps:
http://www.itcanwait.com/apps/ (Apps for ATT, Verizon & Sprint)
There are many options out there for Safe Driving Apps these are but a few.
Contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more questions want more information on this subject!