The Dangers of Distracted Driving

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month.  Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 5,500 people were killed on U.S. roadways in 2009 as a result of distracted driving and an estimated 448,000 people were injured.


Has the following ever happened to you?  While driving, you are texting or talking to someone on your cell phone, and the next thing you know, you have reached your destination and you can’t remember how you got there?  Or, while you are driving, you look up and have to slam on your brakes in order to avoid hitting the vehicle that is stopped in front of you?  Distracted driving occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your primary task of driving.  Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and endangers you, your passengers and any bystanders. 

There are many types of driving distractions, including:
 
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps        
  • Using a navigation system      
  • Watching a video       
  •  Adjusting a radio,
  • CD player or MP3 player;·       
  • Texting       
  • Using a cell phone or smart phone.
The use of cell phones has the highest risk of all distractions because it involves all three types of driver distraction simultaneously: visual (taking your eyes off of the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking your mind off driving).

The following are other facts and statistics concerning cell phones and distracted driving:
 
  • Drivers who use hand-held cell phones are four times more likely to get into a crash (Monash University).·        
  • Text messaging while driving increases the crash risk 23 times (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).           
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blind at 55 miles per hour (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).          
  • Using a cell phone while driving delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent (University of Utah).

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With upcoming travel to and from summer church activities, such as camps and retreats, it is important to educate your staff and volunteer drivers on the dangers associated with distracted driving, particularly the use of cell phones.  In addition, there are several states with laws regarding cell phone use and texting while driving.  To learn more about the laws in your specific state, click here.  For further information concerning distracted driving, please visit Distraction.gov.