Distracted driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents in the United States, with nine people killed and more than 1,000 injured daily nationwide. Distracted driving is a big problem, it’s also entirely preventable.
Distractions while driving come in many forms but they all cause a driver to take away his or her attention from the important task at hand. Eating, using a cell phone or checking your navigation system all increase the chances of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Additionally, factors such as passengers, pets, scenery and other drivers can all serve as distractions.
Cell phone use is the leading cause of distraction
Using a cell phone or electronic device is the leading cause of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving is “the most alarming” as it takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off driving. Sending or reading a text for a full five seconds is equivalent to covering the span of a football field if you’re traveling at 55 MPH.
While there isn’t a national ban on cell phone use while driving, New York state law prohibits driving while using a handheld device and anyone caught violating this law faces a traffic ticket and a fine of $150.
Young people at greater risk
Teens and young adults are the most at-risk age group for distracted driving, with people age 16-24 accounting for the highest number of distracted driving crashes. If you’re the parent of a teen or young adult, there are things you can do to prevent your child from engaging in distracting behaviors while driving:
- Set rules about texting and driving for your family with firm consequences
- Inform kids about the risks and dangers of distracted driving
- Ensure teen drivers have the directions they need for where they’re going prior to a trip
- Lead by example and model safe driving by keeping your eyes and focus on the road
The number of crashes caused by distracted drivers continues to increase each year, but we can all play a role in their prevention. Put the phone down --the texts and calls can wait.