People have become used to driving while distracted that it seems to have become normal. National safety council statistics show that at any time of the day, approximately 660,000 drivers are distracted by either their phone or other electronic devices. It is this lack of distracted driving awareness that makes the vice most dangerous.
Here are some of the facts about the effects of distracted driving from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Eight people get killed and other 1,161 injured daily in the US in accidents caused by driver distraction.
- In 2015, 3,477 people died, and 391,000 got injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving.
- The use of handheld devices is most prevalent among drivers aged between 16 and 24.
The selected facts above indicate the importance of curbing and discouraging distracted driving. Let us look out some of the causes of this problem before delving into how to promote safe driving.
Causes Of Distracted Driving
1. TEXTING AND DRIVING
It is the leading cause of distraction on the road. Some distractive ways of using the phone include checking text messages or answering them, making calls, checking posts on social media and using them to set up GPS. NHTSA fact file indicates that reading a text gets the eyes of the driver off the road for 5 seconds. At 55mph, this is equal to driving the full length of a football field with the eyes closed.
In some extremes cases, drivers have used their phones to take selfies or pose for one while behind the wheels.
Besides the phones, passengers are the leading distracts on the road. Sharing war stories, asking endless questions, especially children, or uncanny behaviors are some ways passengers become a distraction.
3. DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
While this is traffic offense by itself, DUI impairs the driver’s judgment. A driver finds it hard to concentrate on the road and sometimes lose their self-control.
4. DROWSY DRIVING
It is also a form of driving distraction. Tired drivers or those with sleeping disorders always find themselves dozing off behind the wheel leading to traffic fatalities.
5. LOUD MUSIC
Music can be relaxing and keep a driver alert. However, loud booming music distracts in various ways. First, it makes it difficult to hear the honks of other drivers. Honking and headlights are primary means of communication among drivers. Loud music also activates the lower lobe of the brain and lulls the frontal lobe. Consequently, drivers in such cars are bound to make poor decisions especially over speeding and dangerous overtaking or lane changing.
How To End This Menace
While distracted driving cannot be rooted out completely, it can still reduce to a significant level. The law enforcement bodies, as well as individuals, have a role to play in bringing back sanity to the roads.
The steps that different states have taken in legislating distracted driving are commendable. Some of the driving laws that are currently in place include bans on:
Several states have legalized the use of handheld devices such as phones while driving. This means that drivers in these states cannot check their texts, answer calls, or take selfies while driving. Recent legislation by Washington State banned even the use of Mascara while driving.
While banning the use of handheld devices will significantly reduce fatal motor vehicle crashes, it provides a limited perception of distracted driving. Some seem to think that making calls with Bluetooth headsets is a better option. However, it is not a secret that a man cannot even slice an onion properly while on a call, what about controlling car moving at 80mph?
Ban on GPS system
In most states, it is illegal to program a GPS while driving, but only a few states specifically mention this device in their laws. Some of the stats are Nevada, New Hampshire, Washington, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Alabama, and California. However, most of these states allow the uses of a GPS if they are attached to the dashboard.
Avoid Being A Distracted Driver
We all have a responsibility to help reduce distracted driving. Here are some of the steps we can take towards safer roads.
- Decide not to use the phone while driving. Use Bluetooth headsets or voice commands if you must use the phone.
- Never drink and drive. If you have to drive, do not drink and the converse is true.
- Refuse to be distracted by your passengers and do not distract the driver if you are the passenger.
- Never drive when tired or irritated as anger also impairs judgment.
- Do not allow any driver to use their phone while on the road.
- Parents to teach their children the dangers of text driving
- Choose wisely the type of music you listen to while driving and keep the volume to reasonable levels. Do not make your vehicle a mobile disco.
Distracted driving is slowly engulfing our roads, and it is unfortunate that so many people who ought to know better seem to condone it. Nevertheless, coupling individual effort with the government legislation can help minimize the effects of this vice by 90%. Remember, it is your responsibility to drive safely once you are behind the wheel.