Drive safe—The dangers of distracted driving

 

Distracted driving is described asany activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” This type of behaviour puts the safety of drivers, passengers and bystanders at risk. According to the CAA, about 4 million accidents each year are a result of distracted driving.[1] And these are not all just fender-benders; AAA’s® Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that distraction is a contributing factor in approximately one in six fatal crashes.[2]

Education is a great tool when it comes to ending distracted driving. Share this information with your community to help them drive safe and put a screeching halt to distracted driving.

Distracted driving offenders

  • Texting and driving: According the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S., texting and driving diverts attention away from driving more frequently and for longer periods of time than any other distraction. The average text, when sent at about 88 km/h, averts a driver’s eyes from the road long enough to drive the length of a football field.[3]
  • Cell phone use: Talking on a cell phone while driving quadruples the risk of an accident (it’s about the same risk as driving drunk).[4] Some try to reduce this risk by using hands-free devices. However, although hands-free devices help drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, they do not eliminate cognitive distraction, according to the National Safety Council (NSC)®. In its study on understanding the distracted brain, the NSC finds “multi-tasking is a myth” and distractions (including talking on the phone hands-free) cause the brain to shift focus and attention from driving, in turn reducing reaction time and increasing the risk of a crash.[5]
  • Eating and drinking: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) south of the border reports that eating and drinking while driving increases the odds of an accident by 80 percent. It also found 65 percent of “near miss” accidents were caused by drivers engaged in eating or drinking. The NHTSA has even complied a list of the most dangerous foods and beverages to consume while driving—coffee tops the list.[6]
  • Grooming: Grooming activities like shaving, brushing teeth and putting on makeup have no business behind the wheel. In fact, applying makeup while driving triples the chance of a crash or accident.[7] Yet, participants in a 2015 survey from insurance company Erie® admit to performing these and other dangerous activities while driving, including changing clothes.[8]
  • Reading: Six percent of drivers admit to reading a newspaper, book or magazine while driving. Countless others check email, look at a map or refer to written instructions.[9] These behaviours, when done while driving, not only take our eyes off the road, they distract our brains from the task at hand.

Help put the brakes on these dangerous behaviours. Share these important facts with community members by imprinting them on key chains, car litter bags or air vent note pads that can act as reminders behind the wheel. Distribute via mail, at police and fire stations, in hospitals and at your local Ministry of Transportation service centre. You may also consider sharing a fact a week on social media and asking friends and followers to take a pledge to stop distracted driving behaviours. Reward those who do with an entry into a prize draw for a car caddy, roadside companion organizer or sun shade. Together, we can save lives by putting a stop to distracted driving.

[1] “Statistics.” CAA Distracted Driving. N.p. n.d. Web. 1 June 2016.<http://distracteddriving.caa.ca/education/>

[2] “Distracted Driving.” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <https://www.aaafoundation.org/distracted-driving>.

[3] “Distracted Driving.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 07 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 May 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/>.

[4] “Learn the Facts About Distracted Driving.” Distracted Driving Facts Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <http://www.enddd.org/the-facts-about-distracted-driving/>.

[5] Understanding the Distracted Brain. N.p.: Createspace Independent Pub, 2014. NationalSafetyCouncil.org. Apr. 2012. Web. <http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/Understanding-the-Distracted-Brain.aspx>.

[6] “Eating While Driving & The Top 10 Most Dangerous Foods.” DriveSafelynet. N.p., 23 Feb. 2015. Web. 16 May 2016. <http://www.drive-safely.net/eating-while-driving/>.

[7] “Distracted Driving Dangers – GuideOne.” GuideOne. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <https://www.guideone.com/safety_resource/distracted-driving-auto/>.

[8] “Facts and Statistics.” Distracted Driving : Facts And Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html>.

[9] “Distracted Driving Dangers – GuideOne.” GuideOne. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <https://www.guideone.com/safety_resource/distracted-driving-auto/>.

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