Every day, nine people are killed, and 1,000 are injured in distracted driving accidents nationwide. According to AAA, there are hundreds of distractions that can snag a driver’s attention from the road. But the most prevalent and deadly distraction to date remains the use of cellphones while driving.
Whether it’s texting, talking, navigating, or checking notifications, using a cellphone behind the wheel can lead to deadly consequences. The AAA defines an intexicator as any driver who uses their cellphone behind the wheel. It only takes one tap of a screen or a few seconds of glancing away for a driver to miss a road hazard that leads to an accident. In some cases, these hazards are fixed objects, such as guardrails, dividers, or construction signs. But most often, road hazards in distracted driving accidents involve people: occupants of other vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians.
Studies conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have found that despite 97 percent of drivers admitting that cellphone use while driving is dangerous, 45 percent still admit to reading a text or email while driving and, 35 percent admit to typing a text while driving in the last month. Spreading awareness on the critical impact distracted driving can have in our communities is the first step to protecting others on the road. Here’s where you can start to make a difference near you.
Know the Facts
It’s not enough to say that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents to inspire someone to drive safer— even if it’s true. However, sharing relatable situations of how dangerous using a cellphone behind the wheel can be is a great place to start.
The AAA provides the following examples for you to share with friends and family to illustrate the true danger of distracted driving:
- Reading an email for 5 seconds is the same as driving an entire length of a football field blindfolded;
- Taking your eyes off the road for 2 seconds doubles your risk of a crash;
- Mental distractions, even when your hands are on the wheel, can take your mind away from the road enough to cause an accident (listening to the radio, talking on the phone, using voice activation for texting, calling, or emailing);
- At least 6 out of 10 teen crashes are the result of a distraction, the second most common distraction being cellphone use aside from interacting with passengers; and
- Cellphone use while driving impairs your brain in similar ways to drinking alcohol while driving.
One of the biggest misconceptions about distractions behind the wheel is that if a driver can do two things at once successfully, they are not distracted. Unfortunately, that’s not how distractions work.
A distraction while driving is any task aside from driving that takes a driver’s eyes, hands, or mind off driving. Distractions can involve taking your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or both at the same time, but all distractions require a driver to take their mind off driving.
Examples of common distractions include:
- Eyes: Billboards or construction signs, checking yourself in the mirror, looking at scenes outside of your, checking your phone.
- Eyes and Hands: Personal grooming, reading maps or papers, reaching for fallen objects, attending to pets or children, texting and driving.
- Hands: Eating, drinking, using handheld cellphones, manipulating vehicle instruments, changing the radio or music.
- Mind: Talking with passengers, using hands-free devices, daydreaming, using voice activation.
The use of cellphones, especially texting and driving, requires a driver to remove their eyes, hands, and mind from the road. This leaves optimal room for missed road hazards and critical errors in judgment by the distracted driver.
How To Prevent Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is 100 preventable and never worth the risk it poses. Multi-tasking does not exist when it comes to driving. Whenever you perform another task behind the wheel, your concentration breaks, and your chance of making an error significantly increases.
Cellphones are certainly the most prevalent distraction on the road, but they are by far the only ones. Avoiding multiple distractions to maintain your alertness is crucial to driving safely. The AAA recommends the following safety steps to use every time you drive yourself or others:
- Put your phone out of sight to reduce the temptation of looking at missed calls and notifications;
- Know the route before you drive or enter your coordinates before you begin driving to avoid GPS distractions while in motion;
- Pull over on the side of the road in a safe area if you need to call, text, or readjust your coordinates;
- If you have passengers, ask them to help you with tasks in the vehicle instead of taking your eyes off the road;
- If you are a passenger, do not distract the person who is driving with loud noises or other distractions that takes their attention away;
- Use your Do Not Disturb setting on your phone to limit notifications; and
- Refrain from doing non-driving-related tasks in the car (eating, drinking, smoking, makeup, writing, or other).
Take the Pledge
April is officially Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but why wait? Distracted driving takes the lives of approximately 30,000 Americans every year. Raising awareness of the prevalence of distracted driving can occur at any time and anyone can make roads safer.
You can help spread the word about the importance of reducing distracted driving accidents by taking the AAA pledge. By partnering with AAA in committing to putting down your phone while driving, you could personally reduce the number of people killed and injured by distracted driving within your community.
Find out how to create a personalized pledge card to share on social media and use the hashtag #DontDriveIntexticated to gain more traction. Drive safe and alert, Long Island!
New York City and Long Island Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys
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If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, our team at Siler & Ingber is here to help. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcomes. Contact us today at 1-877-LAW-4343 or schedule an appointment online anytime. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.