As part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and to help teens (and everyone) make safer driving decisions, I and other attorneys from MichieHamlett have been making safety presentations to schools in the area for the past several years.
Teens, who are inexperienced drivers and often passengers in cars being driven by other inexperienced drivers, are particularly at risk. Traffic crashes are now the leading cause of death for this age group. The vast majority of teen crashes are caused by some type of driver distractions. As a trial attorney with nearly 15 years of practice, I have personally seen many senseless traffic tragedies involving teens and how these tragedies devastate families and communities. And, as you know, many adults are guilty of distracted driving, which further subjects our children, and us, to danger on the road.
Most people don’t know that distracted driving was the 2009 word of the year chosen by Webster’s Dictionary. Unfortunately, this is no passing fad. Distracted driving has become a trend with deadly, real consequences.
Why do so many people participate in this dangerous behavior? With more technology now than ever, driver distractions have risen to unprecedented levels. We live in a world where people expect instant, real-time information 24 hours a day and those desires don’t stop just because they get behind the wheel. Drivers simply do not realize – or choose to ignore – the danger they create when they take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, and their focus off driving.
For those who think they can do two things at once, think about this: According to a study by Carnegie Mellon, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. Can you really afford to lose that much brainpower? It is effectively equivalent to driving under the influence of alcohol. Driving is an activity that requires your full attention and focus in order to keep yourself and others safe.
This is a national problem. No one is immune from the dangers of distracted driving. So please remember: One text or call could wreck it all.
Ten Tips on How to Stop Driving Distracted:
- Turn off your phone when you get in your car.
- When you’re in the car, put your phone where you can’t get to it, like the trunk or glove box.
- Turn your phone notifications off. The less you hear your phone, the less tempted you’ll be to reach for it while you’re driving.
- Designate a texter. Borrow the thumbs of a friend. Or lend yours to a friend. Passengers get the privilege of texting while in motion.
- If you need to contact someone, pull over to a safe location and put your vehicle in park.
- Change your voicemail greeting to indicate you are driving and will call back when safely parked.
- If you are a passenger and the driver wants to use a cell phone, tell the driver you are uncomfortable with his or her cell phone use.
- If you are talking to someone who is driving, ask the person to call you when he or she is parked in a safe location or tell the person you’ll call back later.
- Concentrate on your driving and don’t use your drive time as your down time to catch up on other things.
- Recognize activities that distract you and make an effort to eliminate them.