Distracted Driving: It’s As Bad As Drinking
We have all heard the stories about drunk driving and the dangers that it presents to you and the other people around you. But what about distracted driving? According to Hasner Law, distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, is a huge cause of car accidents.
The NHTSA reported that in 2015, 3,477 people died as a result of a distracted driving incident. Additionally, there were 391,000 injured drivers and passengers in distracted driving accidents. Additionally, they estimate that 660,000 people use their phones while driving every day.
A Quick Look
The average person spends about five seconds looking at a text message. Depending on where you are driving and how fast you are driving, you could travel up to the length of a football field during that time. Even if you aren’t going fast enough to do that, all it takes is a second of looking away from the road for something to go wrong.
Texting may be the most obvious danger, but doing anything that takes your mind off the road can be dangerous. Taking a call, looking up directions, or even changing the music on your phone can cause a significant amount of distraction. Because your mind isn’t completely focused on driving, you might be slower to react. In fact, some studies show that even if you are trying to pay attention to the road while using your phone, you will still travel much farther than you would if you were just paying attention to the road.
Not a Solution
For many, Bluetooth devices and built-in touchscreen systems are expected to fix the problem. After all, you can do more with voice commands. It may even read you your text messages. Unfortunately, even if it keeps the driver’s hands on the wheel, the problem of cognitive and visual distraction still exists. Even taking your eyes off the road for a two-second look at the screen can prove disastrous. Your reaction time is still 40% slower than it would be if you weren’t using your phone at all. New autonomous driving systems may make people think they can multi-task, but lane assists and auto-brakes are no substitute for an attentive human driver.
The simplest way to avoid distracted driving is to minimize your risk. Put away your phone. Figure out your route before you start driving and pull over if you absolutely need to use your phone. It’s better to be a little late to wherever you are going than it is to get in an accident.