“The CDC estimates each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.” (“Distracted Driving| Motor Vehicle Safety| CDC Injury Center”, n.d.) Distracted driving is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle while engaging in any another activity that diverts attention away from the road. One needn’t look far to find a distracted driver. Simply glance to the left, right or in the rear-view mirror. If drivers are not careful serious injury or even death can be the result of their dangerous behavior. While distracted driving has become a common source of automobile accidents, injuries, and deaths, serious consequences can be greatly diminished with proactive prevention. Vigilance in encouraging safe driving practices is everyone’s responsibility.
If asked, “what are the top causes of distracted driving” texting and talking on the phone would undoubtedly be among the lists. Both are still a major issue even with advancements in hands-free technology, such as Bluetooth, which allows drivers to have the capability to talk and text without ever touching their phones. Other examples of potentially harmful actions drivers frequently perform behind the wheel include: having intense conversations, eating or drinking, searching for the perfect song, getting the temperature just right, applying makeup or grooming. But what about the less obvious distractions? How often do we consider digital billboards on the side of the road as distracting, or how dangerous it can be when a driver loses focus attempting to view an accident on the side of the road? Drivers are guilty of performing many of these tasks daily, never stopping to think that a few seconds of being distracted can lead to lifelong regrets.
When taking into consideration irresponsible driving practices, one must then examine the consequences that could potentially follow. Citations are typically the first course of action used by law enforcement to punish drivers caught actively in engaging in unsafe driving behaviors. After multiple offenses insurance companies may decide to terminate a driver’s policy. Repeat offenders found to be the cause of a serious accident will likely incur harsh penalties and can be held liable for any harm or damage caused to individual and their property. In cases where a fatality has occurred, jail time may follow. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 3,450 were killed in 2016 as a result of distracted drivers. (“Distracted Driving,” 2018)
Furthermore, preventing distracted driving is everyone’s responsibility. In order to prevent this epidemic from getting worse, laws must be adhered to and education must be accessible to new and experienced drivers. One way to deter unsafe driving practices is by holding family and friends accountable for their actions. If a passenger notices their driver attempting to send or receive text message’s they should encourage the driver to put the phone away until they have safely arrived at their destination.
Likewise, schools can contribute to the effort by requiring mandatory educational courses to new drivers. Drivers that have received fines or citations for distracted driving should also be required to complete mandatory distracted driving courses at their own expense. It is feasible for drivers to prevent distracted driving before ever getting behind the wheel. Many cell phones now come equipped with or offer downloadable apps to help decrease distractions. Drivers can also utilize technology within new their newer model vehicles to help keep distractions down.
Ultimately, driving is a privilege and anytime a driver makes the decision to get behind the wheel it is their responsibility to remain focused on the road and keep distractions to a minimum. Drivers need to take every precaution to ensure unnecessary distractions do not occur. Simply removing a phone from sight can greatly reduce the temptation to check messages or missed calls. Putting phones away in a bag, glove box or even the trunk are just a few options drivers can employ to reduce distraction. If a driver feels it is imperative to have their phone present and visible, they should silence the phones ringer and have the self-control to not tamper with the device unless necessary.
In conclusion, distracted driving has become a common source of automobile accidents, injuries, and deaths, serious consequences can be greatly diminished with proactive prevention.
Whether responding to an email or changing the station on the radio in the car, driving distracted can be extremely dangerous and have dire consequences. Drivers should take every precaution to ensure their focus remains on the road and never allow anyone or anything to cause them to lose their concentration and become distracted.
- Distracted Driving| Motor Vehicle Safety |CDC Injury Center [Mobile App]. (n.d.). Retrieved
- December 1, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html
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