You might remember the catch phrase “Click it, or ticket” in Illinois during the push for seat belt safety. There’s a new mantra that you’ll probably hear – or have heard – sweeping the nation. “One text or call could wreck it all”, a very necessary statement that points to the high amount of distracted driving in the United States.
Over 25,000 traffic accident fatalities occurred over a nine month period in the U.S. during 2012, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. The U.S. Center for Disease Control warns that, “More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being in motor vehicle crashes in 2009.” More often than not, these accidents occur because of distracted driving.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Of course we should all be aware of our habits that fall under the category of distracted driving throughout the year – but during this month, in particular, we should all take the time to educate ourselves and save lives.
Distracted driving is defined as driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. There is a difference between distracted driving and impaired driving. But the difference is so subtle we can barely separate the two. What’s obvious is that both impaired and distracted driving can produce the same results – injuries and death.
Andrew Mach of the Christian Science Monitor found that unintentional injury is “the number one cause of death for children and adolescents ages one to 19 the U.S.” For children and teens, fatal auto accidents declined on an average of 41 percent from the year 2000 to 2009. Despite this, it is still the primary cause of death for those age groups today.
The Distraction.gov website breaks down the numbers in regards to distractions for U.S. drivers. They say that one in two drivers admits to answering calls that come in while they are driving – and one in four drivers actually place calls. For teens, that number is a bit higher – three in five teens answer calls and one in three places calls.
Many cell phones have an optional text message responder for when you’re driving. You can personalize the text message to let callers know that you’re driving and you’ll call them back when it’s safe. If you aren’t certain that your phone has this feature – you should contact your service provider.
So, if you’d like to know how you can spread the word about driving safety, there are a number of organizations working to get information out there. Also, the National Safety Council offers visitors to their site the opportunity to pledge to drive cell phone.
Here’s a list of distractions to avoid while on our nation’s roads.
- Cell phone conversations – Give you phone a break. Set up the texting service mentioned above, or just turn your ringer off. No conversation is worth a life.
- Active Children – Before pulling out of your parking space. Make sure children are strapped into seat belts, car seats and booster seats. Give them an activity that can keep them occupied while you’re driving. Fun activities for kids while in the car are handheld games, coloring books, children’s novels and single-player mini board games.
- Pets – When driving with your family’s furry friend in the vehicle, we often forget to consider their safety. The best thing to do when traveling with your pet is to put them in a travel carrier.
- Putting on Makeup – Everyone runs late for work now and again, but the best thing to do when you’re late and wearing makeup is important to you is to take a few extra minutes at home or when you get to the job to apply it.
- Eating – Living in this fast paced world means that we are often snatching moments of our day for self-care. This is why many people eat while their en route from point A to point B. If you have to eat on the go, pull to the side of the road to keep you and your fellow drivers and pedestrians safe.
- Cell Phone Maps – Understandably we have to look up where we’re going now and then. The problem is doing so while on the road. If you know you’re going to travel to unfamiliar territory – it’s worth the investment to purchase a GPS system. Because they sit on the dashboard and can be heard and not seen – it’s your safest bet to getting to where you’re going safely and securely.
Don’t be the cause of an accident that could have been avoided. Participate in National Distracted Driving Awareness during the month of April and throughout the rest of the year.