A Teen’s Guide to Preventing Distracted Driving
Thank you to Dominic LoBianco on behalf of Caliber Collision for providing this blog post. Thank you for all the work you are doing to bring awareness to distracted and impaired driving.
So, you just passed your driving test and are ready to drive wherever you want. You grab your keys, wallet and your cell phone and settle into the driver’s seat. You may think you know exactly what to do next to be a good driver, but in the following, we will share some tips on how to keep your mind on the road and not all the other distractions.
What is Distracted Driving?
It seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Keep your focus on the road. So many distractions are present in everyday life and it is extremely hard to stay focused on our driving. Unnecessary distractions are prominent because we are so busy multitasking. Distracted driving includes performing any activity that is not necessary to operate the vehicle or impairs the driver’s ability to drive safely. Think about your driving habits; what could you change to improve your safety and the safety of others on the road?
How many times have you seen someone putting on their makeup while driving, or looking at their phone? Eating a fast-food hamburger? Dealing with a pet? Digging for a pacifier in a diaper bag? There are so many distractions on a normal day, can you imagine the number of distractions when other friends are in the car with you? In fact, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, your risk of an accident with just one passenger that is under 21 in the car with you is 44 percent higher than if you were driving alone or with an older adult. If you have two passengers under 21, your risk increases to 50 percent and with three or more passengers under 21 your risk jumps to 75 percent.
Laws Against Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is not only dangerous, but it’s also against the law. Many states have implemented laws on cell phone use and texting specifically. To find laws for your specific state, view this chart, from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Many states focus specifically on electronic distractions as these can be proven by cell phone records and used as evidence of negligence or recklessness for prosecution.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can lead to accidents that cause injuries or even fatalities. There’s a chance you may only incur a fine to pay in damages or citations for traffic violations. If there is a fatality, the financial cost is extreme, not to mention the mental cost and loss of life. According to the CDC, each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that reportedly involve a distracted driver.
How Common is Distracted Driving?
According to a study, 30 percent of all drivers admit to texting while driving, 50 percent confess to using GPS or checking social media and 60 percent admit to using their phone in some capacity while driving. Other distractions like friends talking, drinking, eating or even looking out the window at something you consider worthy of a second glance can add even more to these numbers.
What Distracted Driving Could Cost You
Violation costs vary from state to state. An average cost of a first-time offense is around $150, not including additional fees. Any other offense after that would increase to around $250. Some states are dramatically different, for example, if you are caught driving distracted in Alaska, you could be looking at financial penalties as high as $10,000. In cases of fatalities, there’s the consequence of potential jail-time. Although monetary penalties are high, the real cost of distracted driving is in human life, whether it is your own or someone else. It just isn’t worth the risk.
Hands-Free Products to Help
With the advancement of technological devices comes hands-free models to help reduce the dangers of use while driving. There are three categories for distracted driving, visual – taking your eyes from the road, physical – taking your hands from the wheel and mental – taking your mind off of your driving. While cellphones are not the only distraction, they are the most popular and do incorporate all three of the categories at once while using them, making them the most dangerous. Incorporating the use of hands-free products, like phone mounts, will keep you from fumbling for your phone or looking down in your lap for directions. Having your phone clipped on the dash keeps the phone readily in view and not more than a glance away at a time. Bluetooth speakers or setting your mobile phone to do-not-text-while-driving are the best ways to ensure a clear head and hands while driving. Accepting a call is much easier and doesn’t take your eyes or hands away from driving for more than a second. To eliminate the distraction of your phone entirely, keep the device in your bookbag or out of sight; your notifications will be waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.
Talk with Friends and Family to Spread the Word
Don’t hesitate to share the dangers of distracted driving. Talk with your friends and family and let them know it is not ok to do other things while driving. Focus on the road and the safety of you and your passengers. Don’t assume that you are a good enough driver to avoid accidents. Sometimes it isn’t about your skill, but alertness to avoid a split-second disaster of another driver that isn’t paying attention. Keep your eyes on the road, keep your mind on driving, keep your hands on the wheel. One distraction can steal your reaction. Urge people you love to take the pledge that can save not only their lives but others also.