You see it all the time — the driver next to you is on the phone, fidgeting with the radio or eating, instead of focusing on the road. Driving distracted leads to dangerous situations. What can you do about it? We outline the real impact of distracted driving below and what you can do to help end it.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that takes your eyes off the road and is a dangerous act — putting everyone on the road at risk. There are three main types of distracted driving:
- Visual: When you take your eyes off the road.
- Manual: When you take your hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive: When you think about something else, and your mind isn’t focused on driving.
- Talking or texting on a cell phone
- Eating or drinking
- Reaching for something in the backseat
- Changing vehicle or radio settings
- Making changes to a navigation system
What’s the Impact of Distracted Driving?
There’s a lot more on the line than simply sending or reading that one text. Lives are at stake. For the Castenson family, one moment changed their world — forever. In 2015, two of their family members died in a crash after a driver failed to stop at a stop sign. It was later learned the driver had been texting and driving at the time of the collision. The Castenson family lost a husband/father and grandmother. They share their tragedy in hope of saving lives by educating people on the dangers of texting and driving.
Distracted driving is not a problem limited to one state or one region, it’s a danger throughout the country. According to the latest stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people were killed in 2019. Approximately one out of five people killed in a crash involving a distracted driver in 2018 was not in a vehicle, but walking, riding a bike, etc. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported findings from the NHTSA that “twenty-five percent of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were young adults age 20-29.”
A lot can change in the blink of an eye. Imagine driving the length of a football field with your eyes shut…. dangerous, right? It takes approximately five seconds to send or read a text, and when driving 55 miles per hour, that’s about the same time it takes your vehicle to drive the distance of a football field. Those few seconds can have a life-changing impact.
What Can You Do to End Distracted Driving?
As a driver, you take on a big responsibility when you get behind the wheel. Your safety and that of others on the road is in your hands. Implementing safe driving habits helps keep everyone safer. Before hitting the road, consider these strategies to avoid driving distracted:
- Enable a Do Not Disturb mode on your cell phone
- Use an app to help you avoid using your cell phone
- Select vehicle and radio settings
- Keep music at a lower volume
- Make sure kids in the backseat have what they need
- Input your destination into your navigation system
If you are a passenger, be alert and speak up if the driver is driving distracted. Everyone plays a role in the fight to end distracted driving.