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The dangers of distracted driving are all too real

2015 was a year of record fatalities. Almost 40,000 people lost their lives in a car crash, the most since 2007. The number one cause of traffic accidents? Distracted driving. 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured because of distracted driving. 

Distracted driving is when the driver of a car is driving and doing something else that takes their eyes and mind of the road. A distraction can occur in a flash, with results that might be long-lasting such as death, maiming or disability.

 The different types of distracted driving

When cell phones became ubiquitous, lawmakers were concerned that using a cell phone while driving would lead to more to accidents so they passed laws requiring those using a cell phone to make or receive a call had to have a hands-free setup. This helped, but only for a short while. Texting is reaching new highs as a leading cause of distracted driving. However, cell phone use (talking and texting) is not the only cause of distracted driving, other reasons include:

  • Adjusting your navigation system
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Choosing music
  • Anything else that takes a driver’s eyes off the road

Kara Macek, senior director of communications and programs for the Governors Highway Safety Association recently commented on distracted driving. She said:

“States tell us that the three primary factors in traffic fatalities continue to be booze, belts and speed, but drugs, distraction and drowsiness are also increasingly contributing factors to crashes, so we are dealing with a wide spectrum of human behaviors that are challenging to change. Unfortunately, the proliferation of new apps and features on smartphones means that drivers are not only texting, but also Snapchatting, Instagramming, and Tweeting while behind the wheel,” says Macek. “Any interaction with your phone while driving is a risky proposition.”

How to prevent distractions behind the wheel

There are things all drivers can do to avoid a car wreck stemming from distracted driving. They include:

  • Review your route before you begin your drive. Slavishly following a navigation system often leads to an accident.
  • Always observe speed limits and adjust your speed based on weather and road conditions
  • Keep your eyes on the road always. In just a few seconds, driving while distracted can lead to a serious car wreck.
  • Do not use your cell phone while driving. If you are alone in the car allow your voice mail to answer calls for you. If you must make a call or send a text, pull off the road to a safe place and take care of your phone call or text before resuming your trip.