While driving to work this morning, I am sure you witnessed more than one distracted driver looking down at their smartphone, applying makeup, or wolfing down breakfast instead of keeping their eyes on the road. This dangerous activity has become commonplace and has reached epidemic levels. Due to the influx in distracted driving, April has been officially named “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”
According to www.distraction.gov, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or toying with other electronic devices while driving. Despite the increase in awareness campaigns nationwide, this number has held steady since 2010. While the number of distracted driving-related crashes appears to have come down a bit from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012 (the most up-to-date information provided), it appears that the number of people driving distracted has not decreased during this time.
So what is “distracted driving” you ask? According to the aforementioned website, “distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Some prime examples include texting, using a cell phone, eating and drinking, discussions with passengers, grooming, reading (including maps), using a navigation system, watching a video, and adjusting a radio/CD player/MP3 player.
Distraction.gov states that:
- 25 percent of teens respond to at least one text message every time they get behind the wheel
- 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of adults admit to having multi-message text correspondence while driving
- 10 percent of all fatal crashes involving drivers under the age of 20 are a result of distracted driving. This is the largest proportion of distracted drivers among all age groups.
As if that were not bad enough, drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. Considering the amount of information available regarding the dangers of distracted driving, these figures are startling.
When texting, a driver’s eyes are off the road for an estimated 5.5 seconds. If they are traveling at 55 mph, then they have just driven the length of a football field without looking at what’s in front of them. When viewing driving while texting in this light it illustrates just how dangerous this activity can be. A lot can happen in that stretch of time, and if drivers are not looking at the road it could end with disastrous results. If you combine this illustration with the percentage of people texting multiple times during the course of a drive, the amount of road being driven “blindly” by distracted drivers is enough to make you never get behind the wheel again.
There is a large push by the government to curb this issue, and as a result there have been a series of graphic ads showcasing the dangers of distracted driving. These ads pull no punches, and with figures like those listed above, the time for sugar-coating the problem appears to be over.
I strongly suggest taking a look at these ads to get a better idea of the dangers of distracted driving. The next time someone feels the urge to pull out their cell phone to text a friend, scroll through their iPod for that perfect song, or take that last sip of their Big Gulp while behind the wheel, perhaps this information will make them think twice.
What precautions do you take to prevent distracted driving?