April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This event is a good reminder to pay more attention to how we contribute to potential unsafe behaviors and what we can do to lessen the thousands of deaths – and tens of thousands of injuries – due to distracted driving each year in the US.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from focusing on the road, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving. You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.
Using a cell phone while driving is the most alarming distraction:
- A person who texts while driving is eight times more likely to get into a crash. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 mph, that is like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
- A person who talks on the phone while driving is four times more likely to get into a crash.
Types of Distraction Behind the Wheel
- Cognitive: The mental workload associated with a task that involves thinking about something other than driving.
- Manual: Tasks that require the driver to take a hand off the steering wheel and manipulate a device.
- Visual: Tasks that require the driver to look away from the roadway.
- Visual/Manual: Tasks that draw eyes and a hand off the steering wheel to manipulate a device.
The National Safety Council has an amazing amount of shareable information surrounding distracted driving. Check out this kit: Everything You Need for Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It is a great tool to review and share with co-workers, friends, and family.
The best thing we can do is model the behavior we want our employees, kids, friends, and family members to follow. A good rule to follow: if we would never want to see our 16-year-old daughter (or granddaughter. Sigh.) doing something behind the wheel, we should not be doing it either.
Put the phone down until you get to your destination. The call can wait. I promise.
Governors Highway Safety Association: Distracted Driving Laws by State
National Safety Council report: Understanding Driver Distraction
National Highway Traffic Safety Association: Distracted Driving