We’ve all seen it…that vehicle swerving in and out of its lane, coming dangerously close to other vehicles around it. That’s when you notice the driver, fiddling with the radio or looking down at his or her cell phone. Driving while distracted is no joke. In fact, according to recent distracted driving statistics, it’s the cause of an estimated 3,000 deaths each year. As a result, states across the country are cracking down with new distracted driving laws to help prevent it. To keep yourself and others safe, here’s everything you need to know about distracted driving.
First, it’s important to understand just what constitutes distracted driving. While there are countless things that can take the attention of a driver off the road, AAA separates distractions while driving into the following three categories:
Eyes Off the Road – This would include any activity that diverts your attention away from the road, including reading billboards, checking yourself in the mirror or glancing at a crash scene.
Hands Off the Wheel – Adding to an already dangerous situation, taking your hands off the wheel often accompanies eyes off the road scenarios. This might include changing the radio station, fiddling with a map, reaching for a fallen object, eating or drinking and any number of other activities for which you need the use of at least one hand.
Mind Off Driving – This can occur with any of the above distractions, but it can also occur even while your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel. For instance, talking with a passenger, using voice-activated electronics, using a hands-free cell phone or even day dreaming.
Of all the things that can cause someone to drive distracted, however, perhaps there is no activity more dangerous than texting. One need only look at the sobering texting and driving statistics to understand why:
- There are 4x as many texting related crashes as those attributed to other causes
- Texting while driving increases the risk of a crash by double
- The number of seconds a person can safely take his or her eyes off the road: 5
- The average number of seconds it takes to read/send a text: 46
If you do drive distracted and happen to get caught, the punishment can be severe. There is a distracted driving law in just about every state in the US, with penalties ranging from fines and surcharges to license demerits. For truck drivers who make their living on the road, being keenly aware of what these laws are in each state is of the utmost importance.
Finally, now that you have a better idea of exactly what these distracted driving facts are all about, the last step is learning what you can do to prevent it from occurring while you’re behind the wheel.
- Use cell phones only for emergencies, and pull over before dialing.
- Limit the number of passengers in your vehicle and keep social conversation to a minimum.
- If you’re hungry or thirsty, stop somewhere. Avoid eating or drinking while driving.
- Don’t multitask. Focus on one thing: getting to your destination safely.
- Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel at all times.
Distracted driving is a serious problem today. By being aware of what things could potentially pull your attention away from the road, what the laws and penalties are in each state and what you can do to avoid becoming part of the problem will help keep everyone a little bit safer.