Distracted driving awareness can help reduce risks
In a recent news story out of Denver, police charged a woman with “careless driving causing death” after she hit a cyclist in Douglas County. She told officials she had been distracted by her cell phone ringing. This case of distracted driving illustrates how even a short distraction can lead to tragic consequences on the road.
What Is Distracted Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,477 people died as the result of distracted driving in 2015 (the latest data available). An additional 391,000 people sustained injuries from distracted driving incidents.
The NHTSA defines distracted driving this way:
“Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.
Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
In our work, we represent clients who have been injured in a variety of accidents, and many of those clients were involved in distracted driving cases. A quick text, or turning to speak to someone in your car, can result in serious injuries or even death. In the news story above, the driver was distracted long enough to miss seeing a cyclist on the side of the road, and that cyclist paid the ultimate price.
Distracted Driving Awareness
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the National Safety Council has published a number of resources to help build awareness about this issue. The organization’s #JustDrive campaign through Thunderclap! begins today, April 2, with the goal of generating public support for driving without distractions.
The organization’s white paper about the distracted brain highlights some important findings. While many of us know the dangers of texting while driving, because texting requires looking away from the road and typing, but distraction can occur with hands-free devices as well. According to the report:
“Hands-free devices often are seen as a solution to the risks of driver distraction because they help eliminate two obvious risks – visual, looking away from the road and manual, removing your hands off of the steering wheel. However, a third type of distraction can occur when using cell phones while driving – cognitive, taking your mind off the road. Hands-free devices do not eliminate cognitive distraction.”
Learn more about the effects of distracted driving here.
What You Can Do
To make driving safety a priority for you, and your family, take the following steps:
– Commit to stowing your phone while you drive
– Do not take calls while driving, including using hands-free devices
– Tune the radio before you set out and don’t change channels as you drive
– Input map destinations on your GPS prior to leaving, or pull over
– Enjoy your meals and snacks at home or in a restaurant
– Keep conversations with passengers to a minimum
– Talk to your teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving and enforce consequences for texting and driving
If you have been injured in an accident, contact us for a free consultation. We represent personal injury and wrongful death clients in a variety of circumstances.