With as much attention having been raised in regards to distracted driving over the past several years one would think this top cause of preventable accidents and deaths would be on the decline. Since 2015 vehicle deaths are up 6%, killing over 40,000 people this last year. Unfortunately, it is on the rise. The National Safety Council (NSC) has an entire page devoted to tools, information and statistics dedicated to educate drivers about the severity of this crisis. So what will it take to reprogram our brains to ignore every little beep, buzz and ring from our cell phones? Well, for starters here’s a few of those NSC statistics for some terrifying motivation:
- Drivers talking on handheld or hands free devices don’t see 50% of their surroundings
- 1.6 Million crashes per year are attributed to drivers using their cell phone
- 1 out of every 4 accidents is caused by texting and driving
- Using voice to text is actually more distracting than texting
- 7% of all drivers of cars on the road are on their phone
So why are we seemingly incapable of turning off that need to immediately respond? For many smart phone owners, the answer is addiction. In CNN’s article, “Smartphone Addiction Could be Changing Your Brain” study after study reveals just how addicted many of us are to that digital rectangle in our pockets and purses. Per a 2010 Pew Research Study half of American adults send or read texts while driving. For 16 to 17 year olds that number increases to one in three. Even walking while distracted has been blamed for putting the walker at ten times the risk of being injured. Distracted drivers combined with distracted walkers simply can’t have a good outcome.
But wait, the term distracted driving isn’t anything new. We’re simply more distracted than ever before. The hashtag #JustDrive has been created to make the point that the only way to keep ourselves and others safe on the road is to do just that…drive. Lest we forget, our cell phones, texts, calls, and social media updates are only one aspect of the driving behaviors that keep us from being focused on…driving. NSC has several links on information to remind us of all those other preventable causes of accidents still exist such as driving drunk, under the influence of drugs and driving while drowsy, not to mention the simple things that take our eyes off the road just long enough to miss a swerving car or a darting bicyclist. Eating, applying makeup, flipping through a folder, even just changing the radio station are all seemingly benign activities until one day, one second without focus becomes one accident that never should have happened.
We hope that each and every one of you will take this year’s pledge to #JustDrive. Share your commitment to that pledge on social media with the #JustDrive hashtag. Spread a life-saving message!
Blog by: Allison Green