April 2023 is Distracted Driving Month!
Driving safely is a full-time job. Many believe the car is another place to do business, return calls and answer texts and questions. When we take attention away from driving, we increase our risk of a crash. Recent changes in state laws have focused on the distraction from using smartphones when driving.
What causes distractions?
Distraction falls into three distinct categories – each category of distraction alone is a hazard. Some activities have multiple categories of distraction.
Hands – This is when you are manually using your hands to adjust controls on the radio, comfort system, reaching for an item or manipulating a device. Your hands are not on the wheel and often your attention is now directed at the manual task.
Eyes – This is when you take your eyes off the road. It can be looking at a passenger, a navigation device, reading a text or looking for something inside the or outside of the vehicle. Your eyes are not focused on the road ahead and you are at risk of a crash.
Looking away to read a text message or e mail is a high-risk behavior.
Mind – you take your mind off driving to focus on another subject. Cognitive distractions can be your talking on your cell phone, processing the discussion at your last meeting, talking to your passengers, or daydreaming about your vacation. Your mind is not focused on safe driving.
Texting involves all three types of distractions. You are manipulating the device, looking away to read and processing the message and your response. This is a crash waiting to happen. More states are making texting while driving a primary traffic violation. You do not have to violate any other traffic laws to be cited for texting while driving.
Studies have shown that when you are distracted from driving with a complex phone call or discussion, your driving behaviors are similar to a drunk driver.
Here is a short video you can share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6uepXw9gZA#action=share
What you should do:
Everyone can make the choice to use do not disturb feature on their phone. You can decide to adjust music and entertainment systems when stopped. Ask your passengers not include you in discussions or other exchanges that would take your mind or eyes off the road. Avoid eating and drinking while driving. You make the choice to focus on safe driving.
Employers should have a company policy that cell phone use and texting during vehicle operation is not permitted. If you have drivers of commercial motor vehicles, these restrictions are part of the DOT regulations.