Here’s a scary statistic for you… the number one cause of death in teens between the ages of 14 and 19 is car accidents. And the number one reason for the car accidents? Texting.
One study found that text messaging increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by two times. Study results also showed that activities performed when completing a phone call (reaching for a phone, looking up a contact and dialing the number) increased the chance of a crash by three times.
Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that each day in the U.S, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
Put Down the Phone
Take it from someone who rear-ended another car in college because she was texting a friend- DON’T TEXT WHILE DRIVING. It’s as simple as that. The danger from texting and driving has been compared to that of drinking and driving. It’s just not worth it. If a conversation is so important it can’t wait, pull over first.
Text messaging requires a lot of your attention- visual, manual and cognitive. When you’re texting you are taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off of driving. That’s when accidents happen.
Besides being risky, texting while driving is against the law in all but 12 states. And when an accident occurs while a driver is texting, they are almost always deemed at fault.
Talking on the phone while driving is extremely dangerous as well. Even hands-free cell phone use involves visual and manual tasks at least half of the time, which is associated with a greater crash risk.
Other Steps to Avoid Distraction
Staying off the phone is the first step in reducing distracted driving, but there are many other factors that can distract drivers. Other distractions include reading a map, using a navigation system, eating or drinking, and applying make-up.
Here are some ways you can avoid being distracted:
Prepare for trips ahead of time. To avoid having to read a map or look at a navigator while driving, study your route ahead of time and pull over to review your plans if needed.
It can also be helpful to bring someone along with you to help navigate the road and watch for oncoming traffic. An extra set of eyes can be very beneficial.
Fuel up. No, I’m not talking about putting gas in your car… although you should do that too. I’m talking about avoiding driving hungry. If your stomach is growling right before you’re about to hit the road, make sure to energize your body with a meal or filling snack so you aren’t tempted to eat while driving. Munching on food requires attention that should be reserved for the road.
For lengthy trips where refueling on nourishment is necessary, stop and pull over to eat. It’s a good opportunity to stretch your legs and get some fresh air anyway.
Don’t primp and drive. Girls, I’m talking to you. We’ve all been there. You catch a glimpse of yourself in the rear-view mirror and realize your hair is a mess. Or you wake up late and decide it’s a “get ready on-the-go” kind of day.
First off, putting on mascara as a passenger in a moving vehicle is hard enough as it is. Try doing it while driving and you’re bound to either stab your eyeball or get into an accident. Or both.
It might be tempting to apply just a touch of lipstick while at a stop light, or to throw your hair up in a ponytail while cruising down a back road, using your knees to drive. But primping while driving takes your eyes, hands and mind off the road, and if there’s anything we’ve learned from the increase in accidents associated with texting and driving it’s that operating a vehicle needs our full attention.
Distracted driving is a serious issue. Too many lives have been lost because of a quick text message or phone call. But the good news is that many accidents can be prevented simply by keeping your eyes, hands and mind on operating your vehicle. Always give the road your complete attention. We want to see you make it safely to your destination. So remember these tips, and safe travels.
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