Distracted driving is defined as doing any activity that takes your attention away from the role of operating your car and paying attention to the road. In 2015, the U.S Department of Transportation reported that 3,477 people died and an additional 391,000 sustained injuries in car accidents involving distracted drivers.
Unfortunately, the statistics have remained fairly consistent in recent years. In fact, the problem has become such a safety threat that a summit was called to address the issue. Solutions went as far as banning school bus drivers from holding commercial driver’s licenses if they were convicted of texting while driving.
Of course, federal action won’t solve the problem overnight, but motorists can act now to reduce the dangers of distracted driving and make the road a safer place for both themselves and their families. While the problem is especially critical among teen drivers, who are the biggest victims, no age group is exempt from committing the act.
The Numbers on Distracted Driving
Despite growing awareness around the issue, texting and driving is still a serious problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2017, 2,364 teenagers were killed and around 300,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in car accidents. And that’s only in the 16-19 age group.
Perhaps more alarming is that the biggest cause of those accidents wasn’t intoxication, but driver distraction, which contributed to 58% of all teen crashes. The closer you look, the worse it gets. In a survey conducted by The Zebra, 10% of iPhone users admitted to watching YouTube videos while behind the wheel.
It seems as though the problem lies in the fact that most drivers don’t understand just how risky being distracted behind the wheel can be. In a survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance, 75% of fathers admitted that they were guilty of at least two distracting behaviors while driving.
To solve this problem, we first need to understand exactly what distracted driving is.
Distracted Driving Defined
Put simply, distracted driving happens when the driver participates in an activity not related to the operation of the vehicle while driving, namely one that has the potential to shift their attention away from the road. This can be anything from operating a smartphone to eating, speaking with another passenger, adjusting the radio or even daydreaming.
Raising awareness around what counts as distracted driving will help you make a clearer point when explaining it to your family. They need to understand that even the simplest activities can vastly increase their likelihood of an accident. For instance, reaching for an object makes the driver eight times more likely to be involved in a car crash.
How to Discuss Distracted Driving With Your Family
An effective way to get the point across is to bring the consequences of distracted driving to your family’s attention. Not only does the driver put their own life at risk, but also that of the passengers in their car such as siblings, those in other cars on the road, kids riding in school buses, and pedestrians. There’s also the financial and emotional toll on the family members of those involved.
What’s more is that being in an accident that was the result of distracted driving can have serious consequences for your insurance premiums, not to mention that certain acts, such as texting while behind the wheel, carry legal consequences as well. These can range from a hefty fine to a career-damaging conviction.
Take the time to speak to your loved ones about the prevalence and consequences of distracted driving. In doing so, you’ll be making the roads a safer place for all and potentially preventing a great deal of financial and emotional trouble from affecting your family.