Distracted Driving: Causes, Laws, and Prevention

Whether you want to admit it or not, you probably have driven distracted.  Many people believe that it is not an issue, but the statistics are starting to prove otherwise.  In 2012 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving related crashes.

No Texting While Driving sign with a crossed out phone in hand.Actions that create distractions:

  • Texting
  • Using a cellphone or smart phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD or MP3 player

There are three main types of distractions when driving:

  1. Manual – taking hands off the wheel
  2. Cognitive -taking your mind off the task of driving
  3. Visual – taking your eyes off the road

Cell phone use, specifically texting, uses all three types of distractions listed above at the same time. It is the reason why 41 states have placed limits or complete bans on such activity while driving a motor vehicle.

Minnesota’s Distracted Law

  1. Bus drivers are banned from all cellphone use (handheld and hands-free)
  2. Novice drivers are also banned from all cellphone use.
  3. All drivers are banned from texting

Facts about Cellphone Use:

  • In 2011, 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones
  • In controlled studies, those who text and drive spent 10% of their driving time outside their driving lane
  • Another controlled study showed that most drivers took their eyes off the road for 3 to 5 seconds while texting, (Traveling at 55 mph) The equivalent to the length of a football field.

 Among Teens Surveyed:

  • 77% of young adults are confident or somewhat confident that they can safely text and drive
  • 55% say it is easy to text and drive and 34% admit to texting while driving
  • 52% admit to talking on the phone while driving

Double Standard

  • 48% of young drivers have seen their parents on the phone while driving
  • 15% have seen their parents’ text and drive
  • 27% of adults admit they have sent or read text messages while driving
  • While you are driving approximately 1 in 5 drivers around you are reading or writing a text message!

Increased Risk Taking

Young drivers who text and drive are 2 times more likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking and 5 times more likely to drink and drive themselves. Teens attitudes towards texting and driving is alarming.

Among those surveyed:

  • 97% of teens said texting while driving is dangerous but yet 43% admit to doing it
  • 75% of teens said their friends’ text and drive
  • 77% said they saw their parents’ text and drive

Texting and driving is difficult to prevent among young drivers when they see other adults and their own parents doing it.

Set the Example

Both young drivers as well as adult drivers have excuses for texting and driving.  Some feel the need to “stay in touch” or feel the pressure to “keep working” even while driving.

Show your family that you care about them by setting the example of not texting or doing other things that take your eyes off the road while driving. Young adults may not show it but they are watching your every move. They emulate what they learn from you and if what you do is good enough for you, it will be good enough for them!  Set the standards high!

Take a pledge that no one in your family will text or partake in other types of distracted driving.

Pledge that all family members will practice these steps to safe driving:

  1. You will not send or read texts while driving
  2. Before you begin driving you will inform family, friends or others when you plan to arrive at your destination.
  3. You will stop in a safe location to check voicemail or read text.
  4. You will have your passenger take your calls or read your texts.
  5. When driving alone you will turn off your phone or put it on vibrate before you begin driving.
  6. Wait to text or call someone until they are no longer driving.
  7. Stop talking to or texting someone if you learn that they are driving.
  8. Pull off the road to a safe location or wait until you’ve reached your destination before eating or applying makeup.
  9. Pull off the road to a safe location or wait until you’ve reached your destination to check emails, text, change CD’s, adjust the radio, surf the web on your cellular device, I-Phone, or I-Pods.
  10. As a passenger you will ask a distracted driver to drive safer.
  11. As a passenger you will help the driver by staying alert for dangers and not distract the driver from keep their eyes on the road.

Apps to control Phone Usage

Many parents are looking for ways to keep tabs on their young driver’s cellphone use while behind the wheel. It would be a good idea to place these apps on all family cellular devices. Especially if all of you have pledged to not use your phone while driving but are having a hard time sticking to the pledge!

You can find many Apps for your cellular phone that help you control the use of it while driving. What the apps are capable of doing vary from what type of controls you want on the phone. Some apps will read your text and emails to you as you are driving and automatically respond to the messages without you having to even pick up the phone.  One app tracks your texting, tweeting or Internet use while you drive. Other apps will completely block you from using your cellular device while the vehicle is in motion.  One app will even place your calls, texts and emails on hold while you are driving but still allow you the ability to place a “911” call in an emergency.

Your insurance agent can also be a good resource on ways to control or monitor cell phone use. They may even have a young driver’s program that will help reduce your insurance rates.

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Sources: Distraction.gov
EndDD.org
Drive-safely.net