The numbers from the collisions are grim: Eight dead, more than 1,160 injured. Every day. The cause of the collisions? Distracted driving. That’s according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Distracted driving, the NHTSA found, contributes to 18 percent of crashes and 10 percent of highway fatalities. Bad enough, right? But there’s more — the economic impact. Driving while distracted causes an average of $123 billion each year in property damage, medical bills and workplace losses due to injured employees.
But there’s hope. If more drivers understand the danger of distracted driving and make safety a priority, the consequences could decrease.
Kick Driving Distractions to the Curb
When you’re operating a vehicle, engaging in any activity that takes your attention off the road is considered distracted driving. Common distractions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fall into three main categories: visual, manual and cognitive.
- Visual distractions cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, even if only for a brief moment. A common culprit is rubbernecking – gawking at a roadside activity or collision.
- Manual distractions cause drivers to take their hands completely off the wheel while the vehicle is in motion. This could appear as innocent as reaching for the peppermint mocha in your center console, or worse – brushing your teeth.
- Cognitive distractions occur when drivers take their minds off the task of operating a vehicle to focus on something else, such as becoming engrossed in their own thoughts or talking with a passenger. Complex conversations, the American Psychological Association found, can slow a driver’s response time up to 30 percent.
Make a conscious choice not to multi-task while behind the wheel. Stay focused mentally and physically on the task at hand.
Say ‘BRB’ to Your Phone While Behind the Wheel
Texting incorporates all three forms of distraction; that’s why it is one of the worst safety-compromising behaviors that take place behind the wheel.
Need some perspective? Imagine you’re driving 55 mph and you look down to read or send a text, which takes an average of 5 seconds. According to the NHTSA, you will have traveled the length of a football field without your eyes on the road in those 5 seconds.
At any given daylight moment, nearly 588,000 drivers in the United States are texting or talking on the phone while operating a motor vehicle, the NHTSA reports. Texting while driving causes nearly 1.6 million collisions each year, according to Distraction.gov.
Tell your friends you’ll “be right back” before you start driving. If you must use your phone, pull off the road and park first. One text isn’t worth a life.
Pay Attention on the Road… It Saves Lives
Start practicing safe driving habits today and make it a daily habit — your loved ones and other drivers will thank you. Next, take the National Safety Council’s pledge to drive distraction-free, and encourage others to do likewise.
Finally, make sure you protect yourself and your car from unexpected mishaps on the road with an auto insurance policy. Not sure how much coverage you need? Contact an independent agent today.