The National Safety Council has set forth April as National Distracted Driving Month, in order to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and help prevent unnecessary motor vehicle deaths caused by inattention, unawareness, and distraction on the road.
Car accidents are the sixth most common cause of preventable death in the US, and claimed 33,736 lives in 2015. In addition, car accidents cause 2.6 million hospitalizations per year, and are the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 2-34.
Auto safety is no joke – and distracted driving is one of the leading causes of all accidents on the road today. The NHTSA has reported that distracted driving is responsible for nearly 25% of all driving accidents – around 1.6 million per year.
For comparison, the total number of accidents caused by DUI clocked in at about 2 million – a staggering comparison, when you consider how many people would refuse to drive drunk – but are willing to take their eyes off the road to make a phone call, or answer a text.
To help spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving, we’ve put together 4 of the scariest facts about distracted driving – to encourage you, the rest of the staff at your hospital, and your loved ones to put down the phone, and focus on the road, no matter what.
- The Average Distance You Cover When Answering A Text At 55MPH? An Entire Football Field
Next time you think about grabbing your phone to send a text while you’re behind the wheel, perform the following thought experiment.
Imagine that your car is on a crowded highway and that you’re asked to put on a blindfold, stick your foot on the gas, and accelerate to 55 mph for the length of an entire football field. You won’t be able to see anything on the road – and you will have no ability to react to an obstacle that may pop up in front of you.
This is exactly what happens when you look at your phone to answer a text. At 55mph, taking your eyes off the road for just under 5 seconds – the average time it takes to send a message – will cause you to travel the length of a football field, while functionally blind to your environment.
You wouldn’t drive blindfolded – so don’t drive distracted.
- Drivers Under The Age Of 20 Are The Most Likely To Drive While Distracted
Ten percent of all drivers from the ages of 15-19 who were involved in fatal crashes were reported by authorities and insurance agencies as distracted at the time of the incident. This age group is the most likely to be texting while driving, using a smartphone, or otherwise be distracted while driving.
It’s important to make it clear to your children and other loved ones that distracted driving is dangerous – and avoidable. Sending a text while driving is never worth putting a life at risk – whether it’s that of you, your child, or the other drivers with whom you share the road.
- In 2014, 3,179 People Were Killed – And 431,000 Injured – By Distracted Drivers In The US
The total number of fatal crashes in 2014 was around 33,000 – meaning that distracted driving was responsible for nearly 10% of all preventable car accidents. And of the 2.6 million hospitalizations caused by car crashes, 431,000 were caused by distracted driving, making distracted driving responsible for 15% of all car accident related hospitalizations.
What’s important to note here is that these deaths are preventable. Having the power of will to not be distracted by navigation systems, maps, or your car stereo, is all it takes to avoid a costly, potentially life-threatening accident.
- Cell Phones Are The Largest Contributing Factor To Distracted Driving
The percentage of distracted-driving deaths sank by 10% from 1999-2005 – but from 2005-2008, fatalities rose a staggering 28%. This increase can be related to the increased preponderance of cell phones, and especially smartphones.
While only 65% of adults and 45% of teenagers had a cell phone in 2004, nearly 77% of all teenagers and 71% of teenagers had a cell phone by 2008. Smartphones like Android phones, the iPhone, and other devices like BlackBerries were also introduced around this time – providing new, dangerous ways in which drivers could be distracted from the road.
Cell phones remain the single largest contributing factor to distracted driving. 1 in 4 auto accidents can be traced back to distracted driving caused by texting or using other cell phone functionality.
So put your phone away when you drive. Sending a text isn’t worth risking your life – or the lives of your fellow motorists.
Avoid Distractions, Stay Safe, And Spread The Word
The most powerful way you can promote awareness of safe, undistracted driving is by taking steps to reduce your own distracted driving. We’ve all sent texts or checked our emails while driving – and while this may seem harmless, distracted driving is a huge risk.
Remember, distracted driving is preventable. There is no reason that it should be so commonplace, and spreading the word about the risks and dangers that distracted driving can pose will certainly have a massive impact in reducing the number of deaths, injuries, and collisions associated with distraction.
So put your phone way. Don’t do your makeup in your car. Focus on the road, and your destination – and getting there safely. And while you do so, spread the word to others. If we all work together, we can make a difference – and keep our roads safe for everyone.