Week four of National Safety Month, 2010, in the U.S. focuses on distracted drivers using cell phones. Parts of this article were originally written for week four of National Safety Month, 2009; however, things haven’t changed very much in a year’s time. There have probably been more persons to add to the statistics that have killed or injured by someone who was texting or using a cell phone while driving. (On ABC News recently, it was reported that there is a 23% more risk of an accident if texting on a cell phone while driving.) Let’s hope someone out there will heed this message.
Our vehicles now have so many complex DVD players, CD players, bluetooth and satellite navigation systems that it’s a wonder we actually have time to focus on the main thing – driving! The National Highway Transportation Highway Safety Administration reports that distracted drivers cause nearly 4 out of 5 motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Now we get to the major culprit: cell phones. In a survey taken by a major insurance company, almost 40% of teens and young adults admitted that they send and receive text messages while driving, and also said they hit someone while doing so, or were almost hit by another car whose driver was talking/texting on their cell phone.
In our article earlier this year, “Thank You, Oprah,” we recognized this celebrity who has convinced thousands of drivers to take the “No Phone Zone Pledge.” If you have seen just one of her shows that features a family or person who has been affected by an accident caused by a driver using their cell phone or texting while driving, it should have convinced you to sign her pledge. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that more than 150,000 persons are injured in accidents caused by drivers either texting or talking on their cell phones each year.
The next time you get behind the wheel, think about your total commitment to safe driving. Things that are going on in your life that might cause you to become distracted, are not worth losing your life over. Try this:
- Turn the cell phone off. Your messages will be on it when you arrive safely at your destination. (In your heart, you know it’s the right thing to do!)
- Visit with your passengers without looking at them. (They can still hear you.)
- Don’t eat while driving, and of course, don’t drink alcohol while driving (it’s against the law!),
- Put your make up on before you leave the house.
- Do your reading at home, work, or the library!
- Set your entertainment or navigation systems before you start.
- Strap in the kids and hope for the best.
More and more travelers will take to the roads during the summer months. Always stay focused on being a safe driver. That should be your #1 priority every time you start the car. Don’t let distractions get in your way.