Written By Daniel Aday, Compone Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist
While many have heard this a thousand times, the message is still not understood by all drivers: distracted driving kills. Distracted driving is commonly thought of as texting and driving or maybe even talking on the phone, but it extends well beyond that. Anything that takes your eyes, mind or hands off the drive is considered a distraction. This means that everything from listening to music, thinking about dinner, worrying about the person who is following you too closely, eating a sandwich, talking to the passenger, taking a sip of coffee … all of these are distractions and all of them have been attributed as the cause of distracted driving accidents. While not all distractions may cause you to get into an accident, regularly engaging in distractions and avoiding accidents will build up internal complacency and false confidence that you are able to safely perform those distractions and get away with it. This built up complacency is just as dangerous as the distractions themselves!
The next time you find yourself as a passenger on the highway on a long drive, mentally tally up the number of distracted drivers that pass by. Count how many people you see on their phones, reading something in their hand, eating, drinking, or even engaging in personal hygiene (like putting on make-up, plucking eyebrows or shaving). I guarantee that count will surprise you! It is astounding how many drivers are actively engaging in unsafe driving, to the point where you will be wondering why there aren’t more accidents on the road.
Do you still think that grabbing your phone after receiving a text while you are behind the wheel is okay? Imagine this: you’re sitting at a red light and the car behind you rear-ends you and completely totals out your vehicle. You get out, dazed and sore, and look out at the mess on the road, leaking coolant, steam in the air, horns going off and then you see that the person who rear-ended you has a phone in their hand – driving distracted. What is your first thought? “Yup, they were texting.” The only difference in this situation where you are the victim, is one poor judgement call away from you texting while driving. Texting is so dangerous because it involves all three of the mentioned distractions: Visual, Physical and Cognitive. In fact, texting while driving makes it 23 times more likely that you will get into an accident!
Each day in the USA, about 10 people are killed and over 1,000 are injured from distracted driving. Additionally, as many as one in four total accidents are caused by distracted drivers. While it is hard to avoid some distractions, every distraction should be controlled to the best of your ability. Here’s how: make a mental note of all distractions that you may face while operating a vehicle. When you identify your distractions, it is easier to recognize when you are distracted. If visuals are your distraction, practice quick glances to avoid prolong staring. This is helpful if you constantly change the radio station, look at GPS navigation or are on a scenic drive. For physical distractions, remove them from reach so you are not tempted to grab for them. Keep phones, books, makeup, food or drinks in the back seat, if possible, or even in the trunk. For mental distractions, understand that these are a bit harder to control, and keep a pad of paper and a pen in your vehicle so that if something is bothering you, you can pull over and write it down to help take the load off your mind. While there is no sure way to prevent all distractions, it is best to identify what yours are and how you can minimize them. Keep driving time as your time!
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