Distracted driving is something that some of us forget to think twice about. Consider your daily commute or your weekly trip to the grocery store. These are routes you have taken so often and are comfortable with. You probably change the station on the radio or take a drink of your coffee. In the split second, you are performing these tasks, you are taking your eyes off the road and hands off of the wheel, creating the potential for an accident.
According to the CDC, nine people are killed and thousands are injured every day in driver distracted related crashes in the United States. These distractions include any activity that takes your mind away from driving. They can be visual and happen every time you take your eyes off the road, manual when you take your hands off of the wheel, or cognitive when you are thinking about anything other than the drive at hand.
These distractions are often cell phone-related, including texting, phone calls, e-mailing, and checking social media accounts. Other driving distractions can be caused by using your GPS, eating or drinking, putting on makeup, or even your passengers. According to the DMV, you are three times more likely to get into an accident when distracted by a cell phone while driving. This risk is significantly increased when teens and young adults are involved. The CDC states that drivers age 20 and under have the highest statistics for fatal crashes involving distracted driving. Also, teens that admit to texting and driving are less likely to wear seatbelts, more likely to get in a car with a driver that has been drinking and are at a higher risk to drink and drive.
So what can we do to prevent these accidents and distractions? We can put our phones down while driving and only use them during emergencies to limit these risks. The DMV recommends that you pull over to the side of the road to look at your cell phone or directions if you absolutely have to use your phone. Consider lowing the volume on your radio and limit the number of passengers in your car. They also suggest taking the distracted driving pledge on their website.
To help teens and young adults stay alert while driving, they could easily take a course like teenSMART. This course is downloaded on your computer and takes the user through simulations and videos to give new drivers a better grip on what to expect when driving.
If you take a break from these typical distractions, maybe you will enjoy your commute or drive to the grocery store a little bit more. You might be able to appreciate your surroundings and take in the view. Making these simple changes could save your life and the lives of others around you.