Whether it’s caused by eating, applying makeup, reading directions, or even just talking to friends, distracted driving is not a new problem. In fact, drivers in the 1930s were warned against the perils of becoming distracted by a brand new invention, the radio! However, the widespread use of cell phones in recent years has added a dangerously tempting diversion that is now one of the leading causes of injury or death in a car crash.
According to www.distraction.gov, the website launched by the U.S. Department of Transportation to educate drivers on the dangers of texting while driving, 3,154 people were killed as a result of distracted driving in 2013. While the number of fatalities represents a decrease of 6.7 percent from the previous year, the number of injuries actually increased to 424,000 people. Young drivers in their teens and twenties account for over 30 percent of that total.
Anytime you send a text, you are using both your eyes and your hands. When driving, this “visual-manual” operation makes you three times more likely to be involved in a car accident. Even answering your phone or attempting to make a call while driving can cause an accident in the split second it takes to return your attention to the road.
If personal safety isn’t enough motivation to put away the phone while you drive, consider that all but five states have strict laws on the books that forbid texting while driving. You can get a ticket, owe hefty fines, or even lose your license if caught. In March of 2015, a San Diego woman was sentenced to prison for six years for causing a deadly accident while she was texting and driving.
No matter how often you hear the grim statistics or see news stories about the consequences of distracted driving, you never really think it’s going to happen to you. That’s why so many people continue to be injured, sometimes fatally, as a result of texting or using the phone while driving. These injuries and deaths can be easily prevented with one simple New Year’s resolution – stay off the phone while driving!