April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month- National Safety Council.
Distractions can be anything from texting, to adjusting the music volume, and can lead to injuries and even fatalities. According to the NSC, in 2014, it was estimated that over three thousand people were killed by distracted driving and over four hundred thousand were injured.
This January 1st, the Distracted Driving Law was updated to prohibit “holding and operating” (not just texting) any wireless device at the wheel.
Police are enforcing Zero Tolerance Laws and penalties for offenders could have a “true cost” estimated at $162 for a first offense and $285 for the second. These costs are nothing compared to the horror of being in a vehicle accident. The good news is that you can start reducing this epidemic today!
Quiz yourself & see how many Dangerous Distractions you need to eliminate:
1. Texting- This one gets the most attention, and it is the most addictive technology we have. Researching say that getting a call or message can actually give the receiver a dopamine rush to the brain. To avoid receiving texts/calls while driving, simply silence your phone. Even if you don’t answer, you will be distracted by wondering who is calling or what the message is, so try to put it out of mind by silencing your phone while driving.
2. Sleepiness- We live in an overworked and sleep-deprived society. Experts compare drowsy driving with buzzed driving, because lack of sleep greatly reduces our focus and reaction time. Get more sleep for your overall health and driving safety on the road. Pull over and nap in a safe place when necessary.
3. Lack of Focus- Stress, excitement, worry or daydreaming can all cause you to take your attention off the road. Aim to be a defensive driver and watchful for other drivers who may be less aware to avoid accidents.
4. Eating/Drinking- Many of us are on the road at mealtimes and need a quick pick-me-up whether it is a snack from home or on the road. Keeping your hands busy with eating or drinking will take away from your driving capabilities. Enjoy the coffee at the office or enjoy a snack at your destination. It will be better for your digestion and your driving.
5. Unsecured Cargo- Loose wallets, purses, phones, drinks and even pets can lead to accidents. Keep yourself and your pets safe. Buy a safety belt attachment for your pet (they are cheap and easy to use) for a safe and relaxed transport. Don’t let something slip under your brake/gas pedals and cause a wreck.
6. Talking- Even if you are not on the phone, keep conversation to a minimum. Anything that distracts could lead to your mind and eyes being off the road.
7. Grooming- You are gorgeous enough already! Brushing hair, checking your teeth in the mirror or even changing out of a coat can be dangers. Groom when you get there…it will save you and your pretty face.
8. Reading- Whether it is the latest issue of your neighborhood magazine, a literary classic, or your utility bill, please put it down while driving.
9. Navigation- Maps whether in a computer system or the old-fashioned folding paper maps can be dangerous distractions. Plan your trip ahead for safety.
10. Entertainment- Never watch a movie in your car, and try not to listen if it is on in the back for the kids. Adjust music stations and volume prior to driving.
Still think you can take your eyes off the road for a few seconds?
The 4.6 seconds it takes to look at a text is like driving 55 mph the length of a football field blindfolded (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).