April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that could divert attention from the primary task of driving. Besides using electronic gadgets, distractions can also include adjusting a radio, eating and drinking, reading, grooming, and interacting with passengers. Even the best drivers take a risk when they multitask on the road. According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, here are some facts to consider.
- One in four car accidents in the US is caused by texting and driving.
- Re-focusing your surroundings takes up to thirteen seconds after looking up from a cell phone, even just a glance.
- Eating while driving poses a risk equal to talking on a cell phone.
- According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 71% of large truck accidents involved the driver doing something other than just driving the vehicle.
- And more.
With work, errands, carpools, and road trips, some days it feels like we spend more time in our vehicles than we do in our homes, and it is tempting to grab a bite, check a text, or attend to a fussy child while driving but when you do you are taking a risk. Here are the tips from AAA to help limit distraction on the road.
- Snack smart. If possible, eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving. On the road, avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.
- Secure children and pets before getting underway. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching into the backseat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
- Put aside your electronic distractions. Don’t use cell phones while driving – handheld or hands-free – except in absolute emergencies. Never use text messaging, email functions, video games or the internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle while driving.
- If you have passengers, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving.
- If another activity demands your attention, instead of trying to attempt it while driving, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place. To avoid temptation, power down or stow devices before heading out.
As a general rule, if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it’s a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel.
Please keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road and let’s keep ourselves and each other, safe out there.