Just Drive! Breaking Distracted Driving Habits

| Jeff Nalbach

Distracted Driving

Eyes on the Road

Click to View InfographicAs I drove into the office this morning, I couldn’t help but think that. As experienced as I am as a driver, I’m still amazed at what I see people doing while behind the wheel of a car.

From texting, checking an email, and talking on the phone to eating breakfast, putting on makeup, or changing music—these are all forms of distracted driving. All of these actions lead to fatal car accidents every year.

The National Safety Council observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Distracted driving didn’t seem to matter to the tractor-trailer driver I encountered this morning, who first meandered onto the shoulder, then back across his lane and into mine. As I tried to get past him, I looked up to see him holding his cell phone up in front of his face, while attempting to text or email with his other hand. NO hands on the steering wheel! I beeped my horn to get his attention, then signaled with my hand to, “hang it up!”

Driving Blindfolded

Did You Know? Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. That’s like driving more than the length of an entire football field, blindfolded!

Preliminary data collected from the National Safety Council estimates that 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. When we compare that to the data collected from the past 2 years, that statistic is even more alarming. The stats from 2016 mark a 6% increase from 2015, and a 14% increase over 2014.

This represents the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years. How many of those accidents were a result of distracted driving? And how many of those accidents could have been prevented?

It Can Wait

Do you find you’re more careful driving when you have your kids in the car, your husband or wife, a pet? Are you more apt to glance at your phone, read that text message, pick up that incoming phone call when it’s just you in the car?

The road is full of people whose lives are at risk the second you engage in distracted driving. You are never alone on the road. If you’d never use your phone with someone in the car, you shouldn’t do it alone. It can wait.

Break Bad Habits Together

The U.S. Department of Transportation is leading the fight to end distracted driving through a combination of tough laws, strong enforcement, and increased public awareness. Forty-six states have made texting while driving illegal and 14 states prohibit hand-held cellphone use by all drivers. With car crashes being the number one cause of workplace death, employers also saw the need to step it up, many adopting a Distracted Driving Policy. According to a National Safety Council survey, half of drivers feel pressure from employers to drive distracted. But are you beneficial to your company if you’re hurt? Or even worse, dead? No conference call, email, or text is worth a life. Being distracted behind the wheel is NOT a business necessity.

Just Drive

  • Schedule calls for times when you’re not behind the wheel
  • Don’t call co-workers, customers or vendors when you know they are on the road
  • Silence your phone so the ringing does not interrupt your attention to the road
  • Plan your workday ahead of time so you won’t need to use a mobile device for calls, texts or emails behind the wheel – even hands-free
  • SPEAK UP! Hold the driver accountable if they are distracted and you are a passenger.
  • Plan your drive with time for stops if you must check your phone during travel.
  • Program your GPS prior to rolling!

And remember – hands-free devices don’t necessarily make you safer! They DO NOT reduce the distraction to the brain. So please, when you’re behind the wheel, Just Drive.

Click to View InfographicChanging the Future

Even with new laws and workplace policies, ending distracted driving starts with you. Make the pledge to end distracted driving. Spread the word to your family and friends, and share this post with them. Be a good passenger and speak up if the driver in your car is distracted. Stay safe, stay alert, and keep your eyes on the road.

Will you make the pledge to end distracted driving?

#JustDrive #DistractedDriving #FatalFacts #ItCanWait