Distracted driving comes in many forms: use of cell phones, lack of sleep, distracting passengers, and eating while driving. Even when drivers believe that they are in control and are able to multi-task well, it only takes a few seconds for an accident to occur.
Types of Distracted Driving
- Visual: taking your eyes off of the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving
One of the most alarming distractions, however, is texting – as it is a combination of all three.
Did you know that sending or reading a text, takes your eyes off of the road for 5 seconds? At 55mph, that is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Driving is the one thing that we do every day that has the potential to harm us, and those around us, so it is important that we take the necessary precautions to be safe.
Teens and Distracted Driving
Teens are inexperienced drivers and are more susceptible to driving distracted. Although they have passed the state requirements for obtaining a driver’s license they still have not had adequate time on the road to be prepared for certain circumstances. This falls largely on the parent’s responsibility to help their children be aware and alert while driving. Parents need to be role models and not drive while using their cell phones, eating, etc. Teens whose parents drive distracted are 2 to 4 times as likely to also drive distracted.
Parents with newly licensed teens can help their children become more experienced drivers by continuing to ride along as passengers in challenging situations, such as during heavy traffic or at night. Guiding them through tricky situations from the start will help to form safe driving habits later on. There are also driving programs, such as Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) that help inexperienced drivers gain experience and develop critical driving skills in lower-risk driving situations.
Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving
Distracted driving accounts for 25% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities. However, driving distracted is 100% preventable.
Here are some tips to help prevent distracted driving:
- Use your cell phone for emergency situations only. Utilize the “do not disturb” feature on your smart phone so that you will not be tempted to look at text messages. If you need to respond to a text or answer a phone call, it is best to pull over to do so.
- If you are feeling drowsy, it is best to pull off of the road and rest for a bit instead of trying to hurry to your destination.
- Limit the number of passengers in your car, as well as the activity of said passengers.
- Food spills are a major cause of distraction. Avoid eating while driving, even though you think that it might be a time saver.
What this all boils down to is to take your time and be patient while driving. Your destination, friends, family, (that burger wrapped in foil) will still be there when you arrive. Although we don’t see it as a dangerous activity, it is one thing that we do daily that has the potential to cause extreme harm. If you have any questions, or would like additional resources, feel free to reach out to your friends at the Carbondale Fire Department.