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How Much Do You Really Know About Distracted Driving?

SamSam

In honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it’s time we take another look at the problem responsible for 11% of all car accidents leading to fatalities, unnecessarily claiming nearly 4,000 lives each year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cellphone at any given time.

And with the average time to read a text message averaging at just under 5 seconds, a car is covering significant ground in this time (average speed in the USA is 55 mph), significantly increasing the chances of a car crash.

What is Distracted Driving?

The NHTSA defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts attention away from driving. While texting, entering information on a navigation system, and fiddling with the radio may seem to be obvious, distracted driving also encapsulates talking to people in your vehicle, personal grooming, and eating or drinking.

What are the Different Types of Distracted Driving?

Driving distracted can be due to a myriad of different reasons, but ultimately can be classified into the following types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive.

Distracted Driving Legislation

Majority of states have adopted legislation banning drivers from sending text messages while driving, apart from Missouri, Arizona, and Montana, where texting and driving is legal if a driver is over the age of 21.

Legislation for most states ban any smartphone use for drivers under the age of 21, regardless of Bluetooth technology or other hands-free accessories. As for drivers aged 21 and over, majority of states require these technologies to be employed to use. If you have questions regarding the intricacies of the law, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) have compiled an all-encompassing chart for cell phone laws.

But what about other kinds of distractions?

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) states while even though states do not have laws directly related to the overarching topic of distracted driving, such as eating a cheeseburger while driving, the act of driving distracted leads to driving behavior that is illegal.

What Can You Do?

This month, you can join the movement to end distracted driving and pledge to be the changeYou can also follow these 10 tips to mitigate a car accident due to distracted driving:

    • Go somewhere safe to handle your business; your situation shouldn’t affect anyone else on the road!
Sam
Author

Samantha is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, with a degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Administration. She is passionate about safety and health and often works in conjunction with injury experts to help inform the online community about life-changing safety tips.

Comments 1
  • Samantha
    Posted on

    Samantha Samantha

    Reply Author

    With so many uncontrollable dangers that getting behind the wheel of a car can present, everything possible should be done to curb the dangers that are controllable. This means laws banning the use of all cellular devices while behind the wheel need to be implemented. With every year that passes, more and more lives are lost because of this deadly practice (Wilson & Stimpson, 2010). Yes, some states have taken an initiative and implemented some laws against cell phones while driving, however, there are currently no states that ban the use of all cell phone modalities while behind the wheel (National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 2018). The problem with the current laws are that they are riddled with exemptions which make them difficult to enforce (McCartt et al., 2014). An across the board cell phone ban with no exemptions would allow for police to more effectively enforce the law (Jessop, 2018). Studies examining laws implemented in Washington DC and Connecticut show that with the proper enforcement and education, cell phone bans can be effective (Rudisill & Zhu, 2017). The nation’s roadways are dangerous enough already. It is time for lawmakers to ban all cell phone use while driving and put a stop to this dangerous and deadly practice.
    References:
    Jessop, G. (2008). Who’s on the line? Policing and enforcing laws relating to mobile phone use while driving. International Journal of Law, Crime, and Justice. 36(3), 135-152. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlcj.2008.03.001
    McCartt, A., Kidd, D., & Teoh, E. (2014). Driver cellphone and texting bans in the United States: Evidence of effectiveness. Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, 58, 99-114.
    National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL). (2018, April 30). Cellular phone use and texting while driving laws. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/cellular-phone-use-and-texting-while-driving-laws.aspx
    Rudisill & Zhu. (2017). Hand-held cell phone use while driving legislation and observed driver behavior among population sub-groups in the United States. BMC Public Health, 17(1), 1-10. doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4373-x
    Wilson, F. & Stimpson, J. (2010). Trends in fatalities from distracted driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008. American Journal of Public Health, 100(11), 2213-2219.


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