How deadly? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2014 more than 400,000 people were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers – with more than 3,000 killed.
Here are just a few of the things that can distract drivers on the road:
- Talking on the phone, even with a hands-free device.
- Eating or drinking.
- Talking to passengers.
- Grooming (yes, there really are people who apply makeup or shave on their way to work).
- Reading, including maps.
- Adjusting the stereo.
Younger drivers are the most distracted of all – according to the government’s distraction.gov website, people in their 20s make up 38% of drivers who were using cell phones before a fatal crash, and 10% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted, too.
With distractions more prevalent than ever – more than 150 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. every month, for example – how can you, and those you love, be safer behind the wheel? Here are a few tips:
- Don’t use the phone: This includes texting as well as talking, unless it’s an emergency. Even hands-free conversations can take your attention off the road.
- Eat before you leave, or after you get there: Scarfing down that burger with one hand on the wheel means your focus is divided – and you probably don’t have as much control over your car as you should. Bonus benefit: Keeping your meals and your driving separate means you’re much less likely to get ketchup on your pants.
- Know where you’re going: Nobody likes to be lost. But messing around with your car’s GPS (or the maps app on your smartphone) while you’re moving can lead to something you’ll hate even more – an accident.
- Talk to your family about safe driving: Having a conversation with your spouse as they’re driving home? That’s a perfect opportunity to say, “I’ll let you focus on the road; we can talk when you get here.” And if you have young drivers in the household, be sure to have a conversation about their phones and other potential issues, such as their passengers – a key distraction for teens.
- Watch for other distracted drivers: Just because you aren’t distracted doesn’t mean that other drivers are focused on safe driving. Stay in control and be vigilant – you’ll be ready to react when someone else makes the wrong move.
Distracted driving isn’t just “one of those things” that happens, like a tire blowout or mechanical failure that isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s 100% preventable – and by committing to avoiding distractions while you drive, you’ll help make the road safer for everyone.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.
Top image by Flickr user Government of Alberta used under Public domain. Image cropped and modified from original.