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Distracted Driving Can Cost You Dearly

Sep 12 2017

As the latest smartphones hit the market, a multitude of functions and features open the door for misuse by their owners, including distracted driving. Per David Greenfield, author of Virtual Addiction, 12% of Americans have chronic addictions to their cell phones - that’s a total of 38.57 million people. When you learn that in 2015 a total of 35,092 people died due to distracted driving, and that 391,000 more were injured in attributed accidents, a darker side of virtual connection and cell phone usage comes into view.

Recent facts released by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration state that 15% of injury crashes and 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015 were reported as distraction affected crashes. Defined as any activity that diverts attention from safely operating a vehicle on the roadways, distracted driving can include texting, fiddling with a stereo, using an entertainment or navigation system, eating, drinking, or even looking at passengers while driving. When was the last time you drove distracted? When was the last time you texted while driving? When was the last time you input an address to your navigation system while on the road? If your answer is “this morning during my commute,” “on my way to grab lunch,” or “when I picked up the kids from school yesterday,” then you are in danger of becoming one more statistic. These reported incidents are only a fraction of what is happening on the road, in your driveway, in a parking lot, or even at work.

Motor vehicle accidents are the second most common cause of death in the US; distracted driving affects drivers, car occupants, and pedestrians. So, what does this all mean, and what can we do about it? This falls into the category of putting safety first and following all recommended driving protocols, both in a company vehicle and in your own private automobile.The number one thing to keep in mind as soon as you get in your vehicle is the term defensive driving. Per the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) report titled Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, defensive driving is defined as “driving to save lives, time, and money, despite the conditions around you and the actions of others.” Here are more things to be mindful of when you get in your car and start driving: don’t check your cell phone, don’t text while driving, be aware of your surroundings (360 awareness), scan your mirrors, leave room in between vehicles, and always be ready to take evasive action. This all sounds easy, but truth be told, most of the world does not drive defensively. In certain states, driving distracted will cost you a fine, in Alaska it can cost you $10,000 dollars - in perspective, a small price to pay to be reminded the worth of your life, the life of your loved ones and the lives you may be putting at risk by driving distracted. Think about it and make sure to practice defensive driving daily and often.

If you would like more information on distracted driving and best defensive practices check out these online resources:

US Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Marketing 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts

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