Distracted driving is an increasingly risky behavior that occurs any time a driver takes their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off the task of driving. With cell phone technology at its’ peak and more immediate distractions in our vehicles than ever, drivers engage in secondary tasks during more than half of their time driving. This has been a causal factor in more than one million national car crashes annually, and cell-phone related distractions are currently a factor in 18%-25% of car accident fatalities in the U.S. every year.
The top five most dangerous driving distractions are cell phone use, reaching for moving objects inside the vehicle, looking at objects or events outside the vehicle, reading and personal grooming like applying makeup or brushing hair. Thirty-nine states have a current ban on texting while driving. Making certain distracted driving behaviors illegal has proven to be relatively effective, but these types of actions can be hard habits for people to break.
The Distracted Driving Foundation is aiming to get to the root of the problem. The foundation proposes that cell phone carriers implement anti-distracted driving technologies. State distracted driving laws are currently murky – drivers often don’t know whether or not they can text, check email, switch radio stations or read interactive maps. With the use of this new technology, drivers would not have the choice and flexibility because it would be decided for them what is legal and what they are capable of doing. Text messages would be blocked until the vehicle is stopped, and phone calls would be screened by a voice that says, “The person you called appears to be driving. Is this call important or can I take a message?”
Other safe driving behaviors that motorists are encouraged to utilize are the following:
- Keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road
- Allow voicemail to handle your calls until you are safely pulled off the road and in the parked position
- Suspend conversations during hazardous driving conditions
- Refrain from engaging in stressful or emotional conversations while driving
- Never take notes or look up phone numbers while driving
- Use a hands-free device if possible.