Distracted driving is a conscious decision. It’s a decision to make a phone call, send or read a text, put on makeup, have a bite to eat, or even change a movie for your children. Most of us have been guilty of distracted driving at one point or another.
But those decisions that only take a “few seconds” can alter the course of your life, or someone else’s life. That’s a chance you take every time with distracted driving.
When I see someone talking on the phone or texting, or driving erratically, I try to stay well behind them or move away from them somehow. A couple of months ago while on a road trip, I was driving behind a person who kept drifting across the lanes on the highway. It made me very nervous…I wanted to pass, but I was afraid that when I did, the person would hit me. I was behind that car for quite a while before I had an opportunity to pass, and I did so very quickly. Sure enough, the person was talking on a handheld phone.
This short video, created by a teenager, says it best.
I’m the mom of three teenagers. The thought of them driving makes me very nervous. My oldest will be getting his license this summer. When I was growing up, we didn’t have the distraction of cell phones. Of course, cell phones aren’t the only distraction, but they’re a big one.
I have another concern as well though, which comes from watching how much kids use their phones to stay in touch. With one in private school and a busy sports schedule for all three, I am constantly on pick up duty. My kids have called and texted me numerous times while I am driving, and more importantly, they have done so when they KNOW I am driving. I’m trying to impress upon them the importance of not texting or calling someone that they know is on the road. Obviously, in a accident or fatality involving distracted driving, there was a conscious decision and judgment error made by the driver. But how would YOU feel knowing that you were the one that made the call or sent the text that driver was responding to? Your life would be changed forever as well by the knowledge of your role in that accident.
I’ve teamed up with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (the folks that put the limbs and bones back together after an accident) and the Auto Alliance to increase awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Together they are sponsoring the Decide to Drive campaign, which seeks to empower drivers and passengers to speak up about distracted driving, continue the conversation with their family and friends, and work together to reduce distracted driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the nearly 33,000 roadway fatalities in 2012, there 3,328 fatalities and approximately 421,000 injuries in distracted driving-related crashes. That’s far too many lives lost and people injured, needlessly.
We need to take back our roads. We can all make a difference by making a change in our driving habits.
What steps can you take to avoid distracted driving?
- Keep your cell phone out of reach while in your car. Put it in the back seat or your glove compartment. Or better yet, turn it off. Remove the temptation.
- Take care of anything you need to do before you start driving, including seat and mirror adjustments, getting your sunglasses out, etc.
- Program your GPS before you start driving.
- Don’t play your music so loudly that you can’t hear what’s going on around you, such as emergency sirens.
- Don’t fix your hair, your makeup or change your clothes.
- Skip the food and drink. Spilled food or hot coffee takes your attention off the road.
- Resist the urge to read…the newspaper can wait until you get where you are going. If you need to look at a map, pull over.
- If you need to change a movie or have a talk with your children arguing in the back seat, pull over.
- Secure your pets when driving with them. Don’t let them sit on your lap.
Together we can stop distracted driving by paying better attention, and keeping our hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Our lives, and possibly others’ as well, depend on it. No phone call, text, or Facebook status update is worth taking that risk.
I hope you will join me, and our orthopaedic surgeon and automaker friends, and #DecideToDrive! Visit the Decide to Drive website to see how you can make a difference!
Check out The Decide to Drive Catchphrase Contest, running May 30 – June 13th, 2014. What catchphrase do you think would best remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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