No matter how much we may tell ourselves not to, it’s hard to resist the urge to reach for our phone when on the road. Across the country, people of every age and from every walk of life give into the temptation and ultimately put everyone on the road in danger.
Distracted driving takes lives all across the country. In 2014 alone, there were 3,179 people who died and 431,000 people injured in crashes after their attention was diverted. That’s 10% of all fatal crashes and 18% of all accidents that resulted in injury. With 660,000 devices being used during the day at given time across the country, it’s easy to see why these numbers are so high. And it stands to reason that some people will lie about whether or not they were using a phone at the time they were in the crash, meaning these numbers are likely even higher.
The Usual Suspects
Text messaging is usually the main culprit when it comes to distracted driving. A driver must look at the text, think about their response, and then compose a message back with their hands. This epic level of distraction makes it easy to get sucked into the virtual world until the road is forgotten about. Other major causes can be:
- Using navigational systems or maps
- Talking on the phone
- Changing the music
- Eating or drinking
- Grooming (applying make-up, etc.)
- Searching for something
- Watching a video
Certainly you need to do everything possible to ensure you keep your hands off your phone and eyes on the road. Whether that’s putting the phone in the trunk or buying an expensive voice recognition system — the extra effort can save your life. But it also helps to drive defensively, which means knowing what other people are doing on the road. From the pedestrian playing Angry Birds to the driver who input the wrong direction, watch for the following behavior and adjust your driving accordingly.
- Lane drifting or swerving
- Slow driving
- Sudden braking
- Erratic driving
- Ignoring street signs
Unfortunately, sometimes pure fatigue can be the cause of accidents, and it’s more likely to sneak up on us than we think. Unlike consuming too much alcohol, it’s not as straight-forward to tell if someone is too tired to drive. Not only does being tired increase your chances of threatening your immediate health by being in an accident, it also threatens your long-term mental and physical health too.
No matter how much you may think you know how to drive defensively, it never hurts to take a few extra precautions. Remind yourself of these facts the next time you hear your cell phone ping!