Imagine driving the length of a football field blindfolded. That sounds pretty intense, right? Now, imagine you aren’t the only one out there driving on that field. There are other people driving as well. Some blindfolded, some not. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Well, that’s what it’s like when someone drives distracted.
One study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute determined that “sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds—the equivalent at 55 mph of driving the length of an entire football field … blind.”
We care about our readers and want to make sure that you stay safe whether you are moving across the country or just driving around town. We all know that distracted driving is dangerous, but you may be surprised to know just how dangerous it really is.
What does distracted driving mean?
According to distraction.gov, distracted driving is “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” These distractions include eating or drinking, putting on makeup, reading a map or navigation system, changing the radio station, and especially texting. Distraction.gov lists texting as the “most alarming distraction” of them all because it requires both physical and mental attention from the driver.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. One study completed by Monash University concluded that “drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.”
This explains why texting while driving has now replaced driving intoxicated as the leading cause of accidents and deaths of teenage drivers.
We want everyone to be safe and keep their eyes on the road. One popular campaign’s slogan is “It Can Wait.” And, we have to agree. It can wait. It’s not worth risking injury or worse to answer a text message or hear a better song.
Save the texting and save lives
There is a reason why distraction.gov classifies texting as the most dangerous distraction drivers can have. According to their website, there are three types of distractions.
- Manual. Anything that takes your hands off the wheel.
- Visual. Anything that takes your eyes off the road.
- Cognitive. Anything that takes your mind off of driving.
Texting demands manual manipulation of your phone, your visual attention to read incoming text messages, and your cognitive attention to respond. There are many times in life when multitasking is an advantage, but driving is NOT one of them.
The worst thing that can happen if you are texting while grocery shopping is running your shopping cart into a shelf or another person. It’s unlikely to result in any serious injuries or damage. But, if someone is texting while driving, they could cause major injury or death to themselves as well as others.
A 4,000-pound vehicle going 45 miles per hour causes a lot more damage than a 50-pound shopping cart going 3 miles per hour. A distracted driver of a shopping cart may bruise your toes, but a distracted driver of a vehicle can do much worse.
Save the texting for your destination. Or, if you must read and respond to a text message, pull over to a safe location. Inform the person you’re texting that you are driving and give them an estimated time when you’ll be available to respond in detail. They will care about your safety and understand the delay in communication.
A lot can happen in 4.6 seconds—ask sports fans who have witnessed their favorite team lose in the last few seconds of the big game. You can never be too sure of your success if you take your eyes off the road.
In our next post about distracted driving, we’ll cover ways to help eliminate distractions including some helpful apps.
What do you do to prevent distracted driving? How do you encourage others to do the same? Let us know in the comment section below and share this post and your thoughts with friends on your own social media accounts.