The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Most individuals have a vague understanding that driving while distracted is dangerous. However, few individuals are aware of the data on distracted driving. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving killed over 3,500 people in 2021. This statistic represents only a small part of all the persons who were involved in accidents due to distracted driving, and it's possible that some of those who were involved in accidents were distracted, but that information was never documented.
In any case, thousands of people are dying as a result of distracted driving, which is a serious problem that everyone should be worried about. If you want to be safe while driving, minimize any potential distractions so you can make more accurate decisions and prevent harmful driving behaviors.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is defined as driving while paying attention to anything other than the road and what you are doing as a driver. It may be turning and talking to a passenger in your vehicle, sending a text message, eating a cheeseburger, putting on makeup, or looking for something that has fallen down to the floorboards of your vehicle. You are a distracted driver if you are gazing away from the road. You endanger yourself, other vehicles on the road, and all your passengers. Some types of distracted driving are worse than others, but you should avoid all of them and devote your full attention to the road.
Forms of Distracted Driving
- Reading or sending text messages
- Searching for songs to play on your phone
- Trying to plug in a phone or similar device to charge or connect to the vehicle
- Putting on makeup
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Looking in the back seat to talk to a passenger
- Searching for missing or dropped items
- Looking at a map to figure out where you are
The Laws Fighting Distracted Driving Causes
Many states now have legislation in place to help minimize the number of individuals who are distracted while driving. Being distracted while driving can lead to car accidents and poor decision-making on the road. Texting or chatting on the phone is one of the most prominent causes of distracted driving currently.
This is why many states have laws prohibiting texting or talking on your phone while driving. If you do either of these things, you might find yourself with an expensive ticket. Some states allow police officers to pull you over for participating in such activities, while others allow officers to ticket you for those violations after pulling you over for anything else. If you drive while texting or talking on your phone, you risk receiving a citation and a fine.
Here are some state examples of current laws against texting and driving:
- While a misdemeanor in Alaska, those caught texting while driving can face up to a full year in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Maine carries a fine of $250 or more depending on the location of the offense, and if there are subsequent offenses, there is also a 30-day license suspension included.
- Oregon fines drivers who use their cell phones up to $1,000.
- Utah fines drivers up to $750 while also noting they can face jail time if the offense is serious enough to warrant it.
How to Discourage Distracted Driving as a Parent
It is your responsibility as a parent to teach your children that distracted driving is harmful and that they should never do it. Begin teaching your children that distracted driving isn't worth it by never participating in distractions while driving. You can set a good example for your children to follow when they start driving. If you text and drive, they are more likely to be comfortable with it as well. Avoid distracted driving at all costs to keep your family safe.
Staying Safe as a Teen
If one of your friends is texting and driving or doing something equally risky, encourage them to stop and pay attention to the road. If they continue to drive while distracted, it is imperative to avoid riding with them in the future. It may not seem like a huge deal to ride with someone who occasionally sends text messages, but each text puts you at risk of an accident and might cause serious consequences for you.
Put Your Phone in Driving Mode When You Leave Home
If you're going to be driving, put your phone on driving mode or set it to do-not-disturb mode. You can program your phone to read messages to you and allow you to answer just with your voice. You may also instruct your phone to stop alerting you when people try to contact you while driving if it is a major distraction that you cannot ignore. If you struggle with texting while driving and your phone is a major distraction for you, remove it from the equation and protect yourself with safer driving applications and solutions.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Each April, you can use the month as an opportunity to think about distracted driving and to talk with the people around you about the dangers associated with distracted driving. Educate your children and other family members so they can all take steps to reduce their own distractions to stay safer when driving down the road.
Tools to Help with Distracted Driving
Since you should always keep your eyes on the road while driving, new technologies are being developed that can help you prevent accidents even if you become distracted on occasion. Blind spot monitors alert you to the presence of someone on your side of the road before you change lanes, even if you didn't detect them yourself. Some gadgets also have lane monitoring programs that will vibrate if you start to wander out of your lane.
You can buy automobiles with forward sensors and alerts that warn you when things move too close to your vehicle, and you can get vehicles with adaptive cruise control that slows you down and helps you avoid collisions with other drivers on the road. Purchase automobiles that have these safety measures to keep you safe even if you become distracted while driving along the road. We always recommend looking at a car history report before acquiring any used vehicle, but you should use the history in conjunction with a list of all the vehicle's attributes to help you make an educated purchasing decision.
Distracted driving is one of the most hazardous things you can do today. Most individuals no longer drive impaired, yet many are still eager to send a brief text message or eat while driving. If you don't drive intoxicated because it's harmful, you should also avoid being distracted while driving. Either one puts you and those around you in danger. Remember to keep your eyes on the road the entire time you're driving, and you'll be lot safer for it.
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