WSAJ and AAJ are involved in the efforts to end distracted driving. Our members have undergone training to speak at schools and community organizations about distracted driving on behalf of EndDD.org, which was founded by an AAJ member.
First, what is distracted driving?
Many people think first of texting and driving, which is a prominent roadside danger. But distracted driving can involve any distraction, visual, manual, or cognitive, including:
- Using a smartphone
- Talking on the phone, even by using a hands-free device
- Talking to passengers
- Putting on makeup
- Reading a map or using GPS
- Rubbernecking (checking out something happening in the oncoming lane or on the side of the road)
- Adjusting a radio, CD or MP3 player
- Watching a video
On the note of the last of those, this funny scholarship-winning video shows some of the other ways someone can be distracted at the wheel:
What are the consequences of distracted driving?
Statistics from EndDD:
- In 2012, a minimum of 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 injured as a result of distracted driving.
- In 2011, it was estimated that, in a typical daylight moment, at least 660,000 vehicles were being driven by drivers using hand-held cell phones.
- Forty percent of teens report being in a car with a person who was using a cell phone while driving in a way that put others in danger.
- The fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year olds is nearly 3 times the rate for drivers over 20.
- Driving while engaging in a cognitively demanding task/using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity devoted to driving by 37%.
- At least 28 percent of vehicle crashes are caused by texting and cell phone use alone – never mind other distractions.
- Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times greater than driving without a distraction.
How can we end distracted driving?
Hold yourself accountable:
- If you’re about to go on the road while in the middle of a texting conversation, text “#x” before you drive to indicate that you are not going to check your messages. EG: “Getting in the car. #x”
- If you know someone is on the road, refrain from texting or calling them. You do not want to distract someone from the road.
- Program your GPS before you head on the road, or ask your passenger to do it for you.
- Choose one station/playlist before you start driving and don’t look away from the road to change it. If you have a passenger, you can ask them to do it for you.
Hold others accountable:
- Show the driver in a car you care by offering safe alternatives to their risky behaviors. EG:
- “I can send that text for you.”
- “I’ll call them to say we’re on our way so you don’t have to.”
- “Here, let me program the GPS.”
It’s always better to be safe than to keep quiet and hope nothing bad happens. Speak up for safety.