Distracted Driving: When Technology Becomes Deadly

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is not only dangerous but it can be deadly!  All of us here at LARGO are excited to join the National Safety Council (NSC) in inviting you to take the #JustDrive pledge to become a better, safer, and more focused driver. That text, email, phone call, and the Instagram post can wait! Arrive alive and on time by keeping your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road and your mind on driving.

According to the National Safety Council, more than 40,000 Americans were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2018. Nearly 10% of those fatalities and 1000 more injuries are caused by distracted drivers. While these fatal accidents are frequently the result of drunk or drug-impaired driving, increasingly distracted driving caused by cell phone use or even dashboard touchscreens and other in-vehicle technologies provided by automakers themselves are at the root of these tragic accidents.

Last year, AAA found that the proportion of drivers who report talking on a cell phone regularly or fairly often when behind the wheel had jumped a whopping 46% percent since 2013. Nearly half of the surveyed drivers reported talking on a hand-held phone recently while driving and nearly 35% have sent a text or email.

Ironically, nearly 58% of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78% believe that texting is a significant danger. This means that a sizeable proportion of people who perceive distracted driving as dangerous do it anyway. Drivers chatting on a cell phone are up to four times as likely to crash and those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash!

Put another way, one out of every 10 accidents is caused by distracted driving (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration). While distracted driving may not be the leading cause of motor vehicle fatalities, it represents a much higher proportion of expensive, legally actionable, and largely preventable accidents.

Fact vs Fiction: Debunking Dangerous Distracted Driving Myths

Fiction: My car is factory-equipped with a touchscreen in-dash entertainment and nav system so it must be safe.

Fact: Touchscreens do not make your car safer or you a better driver.

Although the NSC discovered that more than 50% of the drivers they surveyed believed this particular fiction, it’s simply not true!

In an interview with The Associated Press, University of Utah professor David Strayer, who studied the impact of infotainment systems on safety for AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety said that the “explosion of technology” has made things worse. “It’s adding more and more layers of complexity and information at drivers’ fingertips without often considering whether it’s a good idea to put it at their fingertips.”

Fiction: Using a hands-free device or interface is perfectly safe.

Fact: Using speakerphone, headsets, or your vehicle’s dashboard system is not safer!

Incredibly, 80% of American drivers believe that using a hands-free device while driving is safer than using a hand-held phone. In fact, 24% of all crashes involve cell phone conversations, hand-held and otherwise (NSC).

Fiction: I can talk on the phone and drive at the same time.

Fact: Brain activity in the area that processes moving images decreases by up to 33% when talking and listening on the phone.

While you can have a conversation on the phone and drive at the same time, studies have shown that you can’t do both well. The NSC goes on to note that drivers who are talking on the phone can miss seeing up to 50% of what’s around them!

Fiction: Most motor vehicle accidents are just that, accidents.

Fact: 94% of motor vehicle crashes are caused by driver error.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has established that cars are, indeed, safer and more dependable than ever before. Tire safety is steadily improving, brakes are capable of stopping vehicles more quickly than ever before, and engine technology is increasingly sophisticated and reliable. Good driver behavior, however, has not been on the rise.

Distracted Driving: How You Can Single-handedly Improve Highway Safety

  • Make sure you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there before you start your journey.
  • Power down your electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting the car.
  • Be a positive role model to teens and young passengers: keep your hands off your phone and your eyes on the road ahead.
  • Speak up when you’re a passenger in a vehicle being driven by someone who’s using an electronic device while driving.
  • Find your station, set your playlist, and adjust your zoned AC before pulling out of the garage — just keep your hands off the touchscreen.
  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Pull over to text or take a call.
  • Take the #JustDrive pledge.

Copyright 2019

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