When You’re Behind the Wheel, Just Drive!
Hey, eyes on the road! As I drove into the office this morning, I couldn’t help but think that. As experienced as I am as a driver, I’m still amazed at what I see people doing while behind the wheel of a car.
From texting, checking an email and talking on the phone, to eating breakfast, putting on makeup or changing music. All of these are forms of distracted driving. All of these actions lead to fatal car accidents every year.
The National Safety Council observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Distracted driving didn’t seem to matter to the tractor-trailer driver I encountered this morning, who first meandered onto the shoulder, then back across his lane and into mine. As I tried to get past him, I looked up to see him holding his cell phone up in front of his face, while attempting to text or email with his other hand. NO hands on the steering wheel! I beeped my horn to get his attention, then signaled with my hand to, “hang it up!”
Preliminary data collected from the National Safety Council estimates that 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. When we compare that to the data collected from the past 2 years, that statistic is even more alarming. The stats from 2016 mark a 6% increase from 2015, and a 14% increase over 2014.
This represents the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years. How many of those accidents were a result of distracted driving? And how many of those accidents could have been prevented?
It Can Wait
Do you find you’re more careful driving when you have your kids in the car, your husband or wife, a pet? Are you more apt to glance at your phone, read that text message, pick up that incoming phone call when it’s just you in the car?
The road is full of people whose lives are at risk the second you engage in distracted driving. You are never alone on the road. If you’d never use your phone with someone in the car, you shouldn’t do it alone. It can wait.
Break Bad Habits Together
The U.S. Department of Transportation is leading the fight to end distracted driving through a combination of tough laws, strong enforcement, and increased public awareness. Forty-six states have made texting while driving illegal and 14 states prohibit hand-held cellphone use by all drivers. With car crashes being the number one cause of workplace death, employers also saw the need to step it up, many adopting a Distracted Driving Policy. According to a National Safety Council survey, half of drivers feel pressure from employers to drive distracted. But are you beneficial to your company if you’re hurt? Or even worse, dead? No conference call, email, or text is worth a life. Being distracted behind the wheel is NOT a business necessity.
And remember – hands-free devices don’t necessarily make you safer! They DO NOT reduce the distraction to the brain. So please, when you’re behind the wheel, Just Drive.
Changing the Future
Even with new laws and workplace policies, ending distracted driving starts with you. Make the pledge to end distracted driving. Spread the word to your family and friends, and share this post with them. Be a good passenger and speak up if the driver in your car is distracted. Stay safe, stay alert, and keep your eyes on the road.
Will you make the pledge to end distracted driving?
#JustDrive #DistractedDriving #FatalFacts #ItCanWait