According to the CDC, over 3,100 people were killed and approximately 424,000 were injured in the United States involving a distracted driver last year. About 1 in 5 of the people who died were not in vehicles – they were riding their bikes, walking, or otherwise outside their vehicle. And each year the numbers are increasing.
There are three categories of distracted driving:
■ Visual Distractions:
This distraction requires that you take your eyes off the road. One of the biggest distractions is “texting.” The U.S. Dept. of Transportation says it takes about five seconds to read a text. It has been shown that when your eyes leave the road an average of five seconds while texting, and you are traveling at 55 mph, you will travel the length of an entire football field!
In California, if caught texting, the first citation will be at least $162 and at least $285 for your second offense. Other possible penalties are points on you driving record, suspension of your driver’s license, and revocation of your driving privileges.
Due to their driving inexperience, teens are more susceptible to the dangers of texting while driving. Unfortunately, 1 in 4 teens admit to responding to at least one text every time they drive. The dangers caused by this behavior cause thousands of motor vehicle accidents every year and hundreds of fatalities.
There are several apps available to disable your phone while you are driving to prevent distraction. Some are specifically designed for parents to monitor and control their teen’s phones while they are on the road.
■ Manual Distractions:
A manual distraction requires the use of your hands causing you to give up full control of the wheel. This will include eating that greasy hamburger or a piece of fruit. Also, women putting on lipstick while driving to work or out for drinks. Or, what about picking up a toy or passing juice to your toddler in their car seat in the rear seat of your auto?
■ Cognitive Distractions:
These distractions occupy your mind and carry your thoughts away from driving onto other matters. Even while driving alone, loud music can be a big distraction. You may find yourself focusing more on the music than on the road. An argument at home in the morning or one with a co-worker may distract your thoughts and cause inattention to what is happening around you on the road.
In this crazy, busy, multi-tasking world today, we often feel like we need to be constantly connected. It can be very hard to put away our electronics while driving. Avoid the temptation to use your cellular device while driving. Maybe just enjoy the “cognitive distraction” of soft music.
If you, or someone close to you has been in an automobile accident caused by a distracted driver, contact our office. We are here to help. Your consultation is free.