Think about this: according to the new Safety in Numbers newsletter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given daylight moment across the United States, about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices behind the wheel.  With that many persons texting or talking while driving, 3,300 people were killed in distraction-related crashes in 2011, and another 387,000 were injured.  Our nation’s roadways are the center of a deadly epidemic – distracted driving. 

Is there any message or conversation worth taking the chance of having a serious accident, or causing injury to others?  Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.  Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.  Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds – the equivalent of driving 55 mph the length of an entire football field, blind. 

Here are other risks of using mobile communication devices while driving.

  • Driving while using a mobile phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 per cent.
  • Headset mobile phone or hands-free use is actually no safer than hand-held use. (Your mind is on the conversation, rather than driving.)
  • Of American teens surveyed, 40 per cent say they have been in a car when the driver put others in danger by using a cell phone.
  • Using a cell phone while driving, hand-held or hands-free delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of 0.08 per cent.
  • Teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported. 

Other distractions happen, as well.  One could be so absorbed in conversation with their passenger(s), they forget to pay attention to the road.  New cars that have all the bells and whistles, computer screens, also cause distractions.  Our minds are running 24/7, and when we are behind the wheel, they need to be totally focused on the rules of the road.  

Just this week, while driving through town, a young lady crossed the street in front of me, unaware that I had the green light.  I stopped and waited, but she was so engrossed in her cell phone, probably texting, that she never saw me.  She continued her walk, and never noticed that she could have been run over.  Had I been distracted by something, I might not have seen her at all until it was too late! 

Please make up your mind every time you get behind the wheel that you plan to drive safely and will wait to retrieve your phone messages when you reach your destination.  Try it, just turn off your phone while driving.

Statistics source: NHTSA