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Distracted Driving – A Life-threatening National Epidemic

Distracted driving has become a dangerous and life threatening national epidemic on America‘s roadways. It seems more drivers are not willing to seriously consider the inevitable and ultimately deadly consequences of taking their eyes off the road, even for a few seconds. You have to stop for a moment and ask yourself a simple question. Is my life worth it? Is it worth having your car insurance rates go up?

Well, what is your life worth…or the life of someone crossing the street, riding a bike, or just driving to the neighborhood market for a treat for their kids? Apparently, not much.

The facts are overwhelming — accidents become 23 times more likely (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute) when driving while distracted. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 71% of teens and young people surveyed claim they have texted while driving. And, 78% of the same group admits to having read a text message as they sat behind the wheel.

Sadly, many are dying, becoming seriously injured, or killing innocent people as they place more and more importance and emphasis on this form of distraction. Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it ranks by far as the most alarming and most frequent of all the distractions. For example, let’s say you take your eyes off the road for just 5 seconds while texting or reading a text. At just 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of an entire football field blindfolded. The faster you go, the more ground you cover. That’s a lot of territory you’re speeding though with your eyes closed and without a clue who or what could possibly be about to cross your path. The thought alone should be enough to get your attention.

Not yet? If you doubt there’s a growing epidemic on our highways, the National Safety Council has a rolling counter which tallies the number of automobile accidents related to everyone’s favorite and most deadly distraction. As of July 6, 2014, there have been 526,792 (and rising) crashes involving distracted drivers using their cell phones and texting. To quote a famous movie line…”do you feel lucky?” Well, do you?

Should you continue to text or dial while driving, insisting it’s not going to happen to you, the only person you’re fooling is yourself. See, it’s not a matter of “if” you‘re going to have a crash, but a matter of “when”. Every time you take the risk, you increase the odds you’re going to become a victim. And, those are odds you shouldn’t be willing to take. There are no winners. Tell your friends not to text you while you’re driving. It’s not a big deal…if it keeps you well and alive…and they care about you.

Since distracted driving is defined as any activity that could divert a driver from their primary task, endangering the driver, passenger, or bystander safety, below is a list of common distractions that can be hazardous to your health.

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or Smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Scolding kids in back seat
  • Grooming (applying make-up, shaving, etc.)
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video (not very bright either)
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Car insurance companies have taken notice. If you’re a teenager or young adult, the spotlight is squarely on you as the age group most responsible for this growing epidemic. What you do with this information is up to you. Hopefully, if you’ve had a close call…you’ll realize it’s not worth your life.

Have you had a close call while texting or reading a text while driving? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.