Keys, check, seatbelt, check, music, check, cell phone- ah maybe not! Sorry to say but this checklist has become the norm in many situations when drivers get into their vehicles. Our cell phones have become part of our lives, our busy lives, where we multitask more than ever. Our office is virtually anywhere we can conduct business or a phone call, making our cars well in most cases our only suitable choice. But has our lives become so busy that we have compromised our safety, more and more distracted driving has become the known statistics that attribute to the many deaths on the road.
72% of those who drive and own cell phones say they use them to talk while they are driving. A quarter of drivers with cell phones report use them to send or receive text messages while driving. A majority of these drivers also admit to using hand-held devices rather hands free telephones to talk(Joyner,2009). In many states although banning of cell phones while driving has been placed into law, many drivers still utilize their phones. They are aware of the danger of the situation, but just merely discount it. Many people rationally believe that although they know its illegal, they rationally conclude that the odds of getting caught are nil, or just being given a warning.
In 2003 a Harvard study was conducted and the following information was discovered, “cell phone usage contributed to 6% of all US crashes, or 636,000 collisions, 330,000 injuries and 2,600 deaths annually” Put away another risk factor in drivers-teens, who are the least safe among us all-who are always yapping on their phones increases everyone risks (Joyner,2009). And while the average person like you and I can have a conversation on our phones and not have an accident, the number of drivers who fit this category is diminishing. So how can we enact and enforce the law that points directly to a “no phone zone” in our cars, well the answer is not that clear and concise. But here are a few tips that may help:
Plan ahead- Read maps know the traffic conditions ahead of you.
Stow electronic devices-Yes this maybe the hardest to do, but if your cell phone is turned off you will be less likely tempted to use it or send/receive texts.
Satisfy your cravings off the road- Believe it or not distracted driving is not limited to just cell phone usage. You should eat prior to leaving or stop and sit and eat.
Dress for success-before you leave home-brush your hair, put up on your makeup either before your leave or when you reach your destination.
Get your vehicle road-ready-Adjust seat positions, climate controls, and sound systems. These few seconds with your eyes off the road can create a dangerous situation.
Use technology to make you a better driver-with all the new technologies available you can sharpen you ability to respond quickly to the risks on the road. (“Distracted Driving”)
It’s time that we all stop blocking the facts and take the incentive to change our roads. The first thing that we need to change is our attitudes and then more importantly our behaviors about our driving. Distracted driving is the main cause of thousands of preventable injuries each year and has cost many the lost of a loved one life. The first step is taking your own pledge in changing your behavior and drive distraction-free from this point on, and then sharing the pledge with your family and friends.