Following the rules of the road is important for staying safe while you’re out and about. Unfortunately, sometimes making sure you’re driving safely isn’t enough to prevent a car accident from happening. Especially in recent years as the popularity of cell phones and other mobile devices has skyrocketed, the number of accidents associated with distracted driving has soared. Despite adoption of strict laws and penalties by several states, statistics show the new regulations are having little impact on driving behavior.
The impact of distracted driving gained special prominence in early March, when Wisconsin police found an accident that killed three small children, including the driver’s own child, occurred because the driver was texting while behind the wheel. That driver faces up to 10 years in jail and up to $75,000 in fines, and similar accidents occur each and every day across the country.
Texting While Driving: Statistics
When it comes to texting while driving, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report nearly 1,200 people are injured and almost 10 people are killed each day in the U.S. in car accidents related to distracted driving.
Taking your eyes off the road to read a text for about five seconds is like driving the length of a football field with a blindfold on. The National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration (NHTSA) reports that at any time in the U.S., nearly 700,000 drivers are using electronic devices, including cellphones, while behind the wheel.
Distracted driving can occur in three ways:
- Visual distraction that involves taking your eyes off the road
- Manual distraction that includes activities that cause you to take your hands off the steering wheel
- Mental distraction that causes you to take your mind off the task of driving safely
Texting comprises all three types of distraction, which makes it especially dangerous. Talking on cellphones, taking selfies, checking in on social media, using GPS systems, touching up makeup – even taking a sip of coffee – have also been linked with distracted driving accidents.
What You Can Do
While we can’t control the behavior of every other driver on the road, we can control our own behavior. To ensure you stay safe while driving, avoid the temptation to answer a call or text by turning off your cell phone and pulling safely off the road to check GPS, texts, emails or phone messages when necessary. Teach your kids to do the same, and you can significantly decrease the chances that you or your kids will be involved in a distracted driving accident.
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