Distracted driving has been found to be one of the major causes for road accidents in the US in recent times. Authorities have woken to this reality for quite some time now and are busy spreading awareness using every popular medium; however it is shocking that so many people continue to take distracted driving so casually. In its recently released distracted driving facts for 2009, the US Department of Transportation called it an “epidemic.”
Here are the numbers:
Distracted driving was the cause of 16% of all deadly US crashes and 20% of all traffic injury accidents last year, according to data from the General Estimates System (GES). In actual figures, this translates to almost 5,800 traffic deaths and 448,000 motor vehicle crash injuries .Cell phone usage was a contributing factor in 995 of the cases attributed to distracted driving related deaths and 24,000 of the accidents. The under-20 age group had the greatest proportion of distracted drivers, closely followed by the 20-29 age group. In the course of the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, it was found that the involvement of the driver in secondary tasks led to over 22 percent of all crashes during the period of study. Cell phones it seems are the single largest cause of distracted driving. Cell phone usage causes 600,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, and 3,000 deaths on an average each year according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Feel free to visit our website at common driving distractions and how to avoid them for more details.
Other common distractions include:
Eating or drinking while driving; often keeping the drink between your legs and spilling it on yourself causes you to jerk and focus away from the road abruptly.
Referring to a map or reading a book
Changing a CD
Surfing the Internet on the move
Looking over your shoulder to talk to your children
Working on your laptop or watching a movie on it
Using a PDA to play games
Minding your pet or playing with it
Here are some common driving safety measures that you can adopt to safeguard yourself:
Actively observe yourself driving. What else do you do while driving? Using your cell phone, eating and drinking, looking over your back are all major distractions. Work towards reducing these as you are not multi tasking using your hands alone, your mind is incapable of handling distractions. Try to understand your route well in advance so that you don’t have to refer to a map while driving. While travelling with small children, secure their seatbelts properly and stock things to keep them occupied like toys and books so that you can concentrate on the road. A little bit of time management will let you enjoy your drive instead of bogging you down with multi-tasking while driving. The more stressed you are behind the wheel, the more aggressive you get and more prone to risk. Be alert on the road to other drivers and road/weather conditions at all times. If you need to do something that takes your eyes away from the road, pull over to a side first. Be extra alert while changing lanes, taking a left at an intersection, during traffic jams and when pulling into or out of parking lots. A defensive driving class not only refreshes your driving skills but also increases your awareness of other drivers on the road while assessing your own driving behavior. An added incentive is that it gets you a discount on your car insurance. Make sure you attend one from time to time.