According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, inattentive or distracted drivers cause more than 1.5 million motor vehicle crashes each year. That means nearly one out of every four crashes could have been prevented had the drivers not been distracted.
While eating, drinking, reading, and grooming while behind the wheel are risky activities, talking on cell phones and texting while driving have been found to be the most dangerous distractions of all. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimated that drivers who are talking on cell phones or texting cause approximately 28% of all crashes each year. In 2009, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that people who drove while texting were twenty three times more likely to get into an accident than those who didn’t text.
In light of these frightening figures, many states have enacted a no texting while driving law. Under this new law, some states, like Utah, consider texting while driving to be reckless driving a charge comparable to drunk driving.
Because many people conduct work related emails, texts, and cell phone conversations while driving, employers may be held legally responsible for an employee’s accident if they do not enact policies of safe cell phone use. Employers should advise employees to pull over on the side of the road or into a parking lot if they need to make a phone call or text while in the car.
There are many precautions people can take while driving to ensure that they avoid distractions:
- Speed Dialing: Program numbers that a frequently dialed. If possible, use voice activated commands.
- Voicemail: Allow your phone to go to voicemail if it rings while driving. You can listen to your messages later on at a safer time.
- Pull Off the Road: If it is necessary to have a phone or text message conversation at that time, pull into a parking lot or on the side of the road. This way you will not be distracted while trying to maneuver a car.
- Don’t Write While Driving: Tape recorders are quick and easy ways to record thoughts and notes. If it is necessary to write, pull over on the side of the road.
- Don’t Eat, Drink, or Groom While Driving: Dropping or spilling food can easily cause accidents. Additionally, brushing hair and putting on make up while behind the wheel can also cause dangerous distractions. Make sure to get dressed and eat before leaving, or if it is necessary to do these things while in the car, pull over on the side of the road.
These are simple yet effective methods for avoiding distractions that can cause deadly collisions that everyone should follow.