#CRSW2019: Distracted Driving

Chances are when you hear “distracted driving,” you think of texting. While texting is certainly one of the most common and most dangerous distractions, there are plenty of other habits that you need to be aware of and make the effort to avoid.

GPS units, smartwatches, reading, eating, drinking, smoking, grooming, adjusting music, goofing around with your friends, etc. all lead to driver inattention. With all these distractions vying for our attention, it’s no wonder that distracted driving is the leading cause of motor vehicle collisions on our roads today.

Did you know that about 8 in 10 collisions involve some form of driver inattention, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration? That accounts for A LOT of avoidable injuries, fatalities and property damage.

By the Numbers

The evidence is clear: driver distraction puts us all in danger.

  • Estimates indicate drivers using phones look at, but fail to see, up to 50% of the information in their driving environment. (National Safety Council, 2012)
  • Drivers conversing on mobile devices, even hands-free, are up to four times as likely to be involved in a crash. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2017)
  • Distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2015)

Be Proactive!

Instead of relying on willpower to avoid distractions, remove them from your environment.

  • Mute your phone notifications and leave it in a purse, backpack or glove box. Even better, leave out of reach entirely in your back seat or trunk.
  • Enable “driving mode” on your phone, which blocks notifications and limits what functions you are able to use while driving. Many phones have these options build right in but if yours doesn’t you can download an app.
  • If you’re using a phone or GPS to navigate, program the address before you leave and use a stand to hold the screen where you can see it without looking down.
  • If you need to send a text, make a call or program your GPS, pull over to a safe location. If you’re on the side of the road, make sure you put your hazard lights on.

How Long is Too Long?

We all know that looking away from the road is dangerous, but too often we seem to think that only a couple of seconds doesn’t matter.

If you saw someone reading a book while they were driving you would shake your head in disbelief. But how many times have you peeked at a text message while driving? Maybe even responded to one?

A few seconds doesn’t seem like much, but consider this: at 90 km per hour, if you look away for 5 seconds, you will have driven the length of a football field essentially blindfolded.

While you’re looking at your phone, adjusting your stereo or digging through your backpack, you won’t see the vehicle that suddenly cuts in front of you or the deer that sprints out of the long grass along the side of the road.

If you don’t see those sudden hazards when they happen, it’s irrelevant whether you were “only” distracted for 2 seconds or 10.

Every Second Matters

When you’re driving, every second matters. Check out the video below to see just how much can happen in 2 seconds.

More Resources

Have you taken our Distractions and Proactive Driver Training course? If not, this is a great opportunity to brush on on safe driving knowledge and skills. This course is recommended for all new drivers and anyone wanting to refresh their knowledge. Talk to your teacher about enrolling in this course.

For more tips on driving safely, check out these videos from our Safety and Respect Drive Safe Video Library.

Drive Safe Chapter 1 – Introduction

Drive Safe Chapter 6 – Other Driver Distractions – Part 1

Drive Safe Chapter 2 – Cell Phone

Drive Safe Chapter 6 – Other Driver Distractions – Part 2