Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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You are driving down the road and notice the car in front of you is swerving in and out of its lane. They are putting everyone around them at risk. When you finally get a glimpse of the driver, you don’t find someone intoxicated or half asleep. You find someone staring down at their phone.

Crashes due to distracted driving were responsible for 1,300 fatalities in 2013 as well as 424,000 injuries. This is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has declared April Distracted Driving Awareness Month. They need to get the word out about the very real dangers of distracted driving.

Distracted driving is any activity that takes your eyes or mind off the road or your hands off the wheel. This can include: texting, using a cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading, using a GPS, and adjusting the radio or CD player. Of these, texting is considered the most dangerous. It requires you to take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your attention is not on driving.

There isn’t a single person who would drive blindfolded, and yet, texting while driving is the equivalent. Reading or writing a text takes an average of 5 seconds. In that time, a car traveling 55 mph will have gone the length of a football field, and the driver didn’t look up at the road even once. Texting behind the wheel makes you 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a non-distracted driver.

There are a few simple things you can do to make sure you are driving distraction free:

Focus on the road – Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road at all times. Even a small distraction, such as changing the radio station, can distract you. It only takes a second for an accident to occur.

No Electronics Zone – The car should be an ‘electronics free’ zone. Put your devices in your purse, the glove box, or the middle console. Better yet, turn them off. It’s hard to be distracted by an incoming call if you can’t hear it.

Plan Ahead – Plan your trip ahead of time. Program your navigation system or GPS before you take the car out of park. If you need to change destinations in the middle of your trip, pull over and put in the new address. The few short minutes you will add to your trip is worth it to arrive there alive.

No Passive Passengers – If you are a passenger in the car, demand that the driver avoid distractions. Be a good navigator and assist them with radio changes or finding a tissue. Be an even better passenger by making sure you aren’t the distraction.

If you would like to learn more about the NHTSA’s Distracted Driving Awareness campaign, please visit their website at: www.distraction.gov

Categories: Health & Fitness

Kiera Collins

Kiera is a writer, wife, mother, office manager, and home zoo keeper.

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