Stand on the sidewalk of any high traffic, high volume street corner in “Any Town, USA” and observe for one hour.
· How many people drive by, looking down at their laps?
· How many drivers have their cell phones to their ears?
· Who has one hand on the wheel because they are applying lipstick, sipping coffee, examining wrinkles, reading a map, or Google searching a great local restaurant?
Eye opening isn’t it? I think is is shocking and scary. As a father of two teenagers, I am astounded that almost ½ of the people I notice driving, do not have their eyes on the road.
I don’t know a single community that hasn’t experienced the devastation of a student or individual being seriously hurt in an auto accident, where the determining factor was somehow related to inattentive driving. Too many people are ending up in emergency rooms, hospital beds and worse. It is a tragedy that is totally avoidable.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and while it may seem a bit over the top to have a month dedicated to the subject of Distracted Driving, the most recent statistic released to the public tells a story. While nearly every state in the U.S., as well as Washington D.C., has laws prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving, a new survey by Kelley Blue Book reveals that 61 percent of drivers continue to multi-task from behind the wheel.
“Millennial drivers report the highest rates of texting (74 percent) and checking social media sites (36 percent). But Baby Boomers are the leaders when it comes to talking on phones while driving with 87 percent reporting the activity, followed by Gen X at 83 percent and Millennials at 76 percent.” According to the Kelley Blue Book Report.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 25 percent of all crashes involve some form of driver distraction, and drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. In fact, nearly three quarters of survey respondents (71 percent) believe that cell phone usage is the biggest threat facing today's teen driver.
According to the website: DISTRACTION.GOV, recent study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that manual-visual tasks associated with hand-held devices, such as reaching for the phone or dialing, increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
The following is the likelihood of a car accident increase while performing the activities I listed above:
· TEXTING: 23x
· TALKING 14x
· REACHING: 9x
· READING: 4x
· GROOMING: 3x
· EATING OR DRINKING: 2x
One more statistic and if you visualize it, it is the most alarming…
At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811719.pdf)
Ok, so what to do…
1. Well reading this information and spreading it to those you love is a great first step.
2. An excellent second step is either toss your phone into the trunk or hatch of your car while you are driving. Or if you use your phone as music in your car, set the phone to Airplane Mode so that it does not disturb you.
3. Remove cup holders from your car, which will give you no place to place those hot beverages that everyone loves to consume while moving at 60 miles per hour.
4. THE TOUGH LOVE SOLUTION: Websites such as distraction.gov have videos simulating what happens to distracted teenage drivers who get into accidents. They are heartbreaking to watch, but honestly they make an impact.
Almost every teenager LOVES visual stimulation, YouTube Videos, Facetime, snapchat, kik. Use the tool that they love to teach. Search “Distracted Driving” or “Distracted Driving PSA” on YouTube and watch them together. Five minutes of viewing footage of young adults getting into accidents can make a larger impression than any discussion that you have with them, or pledge that you want them to take.
Let’s do everything we can to keep them safe.
For further reading/viewing: