17 Jun Distracted Driving – A Deadly Mix Behind the Wheel
June is the National Safety Council’s National Safety Month. As our communities are starting to open up post-COVID, there will be more drivers on the road, and an increased chance of running into a distracted driver. And that distracted driver might be YOU!
According to the NSC, there are three types of distractions that contribute to distracted driving:
- Visual Distractions: Visual distractions, the most common distraction, can include anything that takes a driver’s eye off the road – even for a split second. The distraction could be looking down at the console to check a text message or incoming call, looking at a roadside accident, or watching a video on your smartphone.
- Manual Distractions: Manual distractions are often combined with visual distractions and involves the driver taking their hands off the steering wheel for any reason. These distractions could include changing the radio station, lowering the volume on the navigation controls, answering a call or text message, or grabbing a drink from the console.
- Cognitive Distractions: Cognitive distractions prevent a driver’s mind from being focused during driving and could lead to potential accidents. This could include being preoccupied with personal, family or personal concerns, daydreaming, or talking to another passenger. In fact, talking on a hands-free cell phone or using a voice-activated electronic system are two activities that produce almost purely cognitive distraction. Again, cogitative distractions can take on many forms: emotional stress, family or money problems, or even talking to someone else in the fleet vehicle. Using a mobile device can also involve cognitive distractions.
Check out these (not so fun) statistics:
- Every 7 seconds, someone is injured in a car crash.
- Every 15 minutes, someone is killed.
- Distractions now join alcohol and speeding as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes.
- 5 seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road to send a text message. at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field.
- Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
- The NSC reports that cell phone use while driving causes approximately 1.6 million car crashes in the U.S. every year. In other words, 1 out of every 4 car accidents is caused by driving and texting at the same time.
So, what can we do to avoid distractions on the road?
- Cell phones off! Statistics show that texting while driving doubles your chance of getting into an accident. Turn off your cell phone — even if you’re expecting an important business call. If you need to be reachable at all times, get a hands-free device to use only in case of emergency.
- Strap them in! When driving with children or pets, make sure the kids are strapped into their seats and pets are in carriers. If they need your attention during the drive, pull over before handling the situation.
- Program your GPS before you leave the driveway. We want you to get to your destination safely. Plug in those coordinates before you start heading toward your destination.
- Secure loose items: Store loose gear, possessions and other distractions that could roll around in the car, so you do not feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat. Do not reach down or behind your seat, pick up items from the floor, open the glove box or try to catch falling objects in the vehicle. These actions lead to significantly increased crash risk.
- Eyes on the road! Do not focus your eyes on objects away from the road for longer than the quick glances. In particular, be careful about how long you look at navigation maps or other controls on your vehicle dashboard.
- Don’t eat & drive: Eat before or after you drive. Just don’t eat while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 65% of near miss crashes are caused by drivers who are eating or drinking. Researchers at the University of Leeds found that drivers who snacked and drank while driving were up to 44% and 22% slower to react than usual, respectively.
- Drowsiness: Lack of sleep is dangerous for drivers and workers. When a driver is drowsy, the driver’s reaction times, awareness of road hazards, and ability to remain focused dramatically decrease. If you are drowsy or sleepy, pull off to a safe space and rest. If you are going on a long road trip, it is best to use the buddy system and drive with a partner on long road trips.
Of course, the only thing you can control is your behavior behind the wheel. If you are in Northern California, and you find yourself involved in an unfortunate auto accident, please consider the professionals at Kniesel’s Collision. We have eight locations conveniently located throughout the Greater Sacramento area. Click here to find a location near you: kniesels.com/locations.