Driven to Distraction
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Right this moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or electronic devices while driving. This level of distraction will be the cause of over nine deaths today and 1,153 people injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. In an effort to deal with the unprecedented number of deaths associated with distracted driving, the National Department of Transportation and the National Safety Council have declared the month of April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is considered any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving.
This can come in the form of:
Visual distractions, such as taking your eyes off the road while texting, reading or grooming.
Manual distractions, like removing your hands from the wheel to eat, change the radio or program your GPS.
Cognitive distractions, in which you’ve become mentally distracted while driving by distractions like a conversation or attempting to use a voice-to-text feature.
Remember that all forms of distractions endanger the safety of the driver, passengers and bystanders. While texting is a known culprit of distracted driving, over 80 percent of Americans report feeling that hands-free devices are safer than using their handheld phone. This is not the case. Since your brain is forced to focus its attention to the conversation, talking on the phone while driving is an example of a cognitive distractions. Hands-free features in dashboards actually increase mental distractions, and voice-to- text features are often more distracting then actually typing a text.
How to Break the Habit
We have become accustomed to immediately reacting to visual and audio cues from our devices that divert our attention away from tasks like driving.
- Turn off or silence your cellphone before driving, or go further and place your phone in the trunk or glove box.
- Set your navigation system or music playlists before you start driving.
- Change your voice mail greeting to alert callers that you are driving and will call back when it is safe to do so.
- Spread awareness by asking co-workers, family and friends not to call or text you if they know you’re driving.
With these steps we know that you’ll be more likely to arrive safely at your destination. Distracted driving is a choice, and we must choose not to let our devices control our actions.