There’s a new insurance commercial on TV about distracted driving. It shows a simulation where a driver is drinking and spilling coffee, talking on the phone, listening to music, doing makeup (it’s a guy, by the way), with a crazy dancing friend and a baby in the backseat. It’s actually pretty funny but it got me thinking about twelve years ago when I used to have a 45-minute commute to work.
It was a very slow drive with lots of traffic, and I used to eat my breakfast, do my hair and makeup (yes, I’m female!) and listen to music while I was driving. This was before texting and before the term distracted driving became part of our vocabulary. I called it multi-tasking and was really good at it, but now I’d be a distracted driver.
Distracted Driving Facts
According to the commercial distracted driving is responsible for 25% of car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration classifies a “distraction” as a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity instead. It’s so easy to turn our attention to something else while driving. (Raise your hand if you regularly talk on the phone, switch the radio stations, look at your GPS, etc.!) It may seem insignificant, but any action that takes our attention away from the road is a risk, and yes I’m guilty too!
It’s not too difficult to find some alarming distracted driving facts. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. Of those people killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes).
The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group – 16 % of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. Of those drivers involved in fatal crashes who were reportedly distracted, the 30-39-year olds had the highest proportion of cell phone involvement.
I was driving home from work yesterday and for once had my music off. I passed several drivers with cells phones to their ears. It is illegal in my state to drive without a hands-free device but people continue to do so. Sadly, it takes something severe like an accident to teach people the importance of keeping your focus on the road.
Even though I’m guilty of not giving my full focus to the road due to an over-confidence in my multi-tasking ability, I’ve decided not to wait until it’s too late. It’s time to limit the distractions and keep my focus where it should be. Take a look at your own driving this week and see if there aren’t some distracting habits you can change. Together we can change the statistics!