Driving Distracted – why we should all be concerned

by Frederick TransIT Community Relations Manager. 0 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I do know that there are times when my schedule is so packed that I look for any free moment to catch up with people on the phone, take notes to remind myself of the title of that book I’ve been meaning to read, or leave myself a memo to remember the casserole I have to make for the next day’s pot-luck lunch at work. And, more often than not, I look at those “free” minutes, about 30 of them in the morning and 30 in the evening, when I am behind the wheel of my car, commuting to and from work, as the perfect chance to do these and other tasks.

Isn’t that why they invented blue tooth and hands-free devices? Speakerphone? I mean, c’mon, isn’t it?!?

Apparently, the answer is, as you’ve likely guessed by now, an emphatic “NO.” In our fast-paced, haven’t got a moment to spare society, we are all plugged in all the time, never far from a text message or a phone call or e-mail on our smart phones or tablets. And the toll of all of this connectivity is taking is terribly frightening!

According to a White Paper published in 2010 by the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) entitled “Understanding the Distracted Brain,” distractions now join alcohol and speeding as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. In 2008, 28% of all crashes were attributable to cell phone use, and cell phone users, both hand-held AND hands-free, were four times more likely to be involved in a crash than those not using phones while driving.

Using a cell phone or tablet while driving, even if it doesn’t require taking our hands off of the wheel, does require taking our eyes off of the road to some extent and definitely takes our minds off of the task at hand, driving safely to get to our destination in one piece. The NSC study on which the White Paper is based found that hands-free devices offer absolutely no safety benefit while driving. None.

I know my commuter route like the back of my hand. In fact, there are days when I arrive at work and don’t really remember much of my journey at all. And that’s on a good day! Lesson learned – I am way too easily distracted to add more challenges to my already addled brain. Now if everyone would just understand that they are not the one exception to the rule….no one should use electronic devices while driving. Thanks for putting your phone down!

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