Lately, it seems I have more and more close calls on the road. Opposing drivers weave into and out of my lane on more than one occasion–causing me to believe my heart is going to stop and I’m going to meet Elizabeth with Fred Sanford. (I hope you aren’t too young for that analogy!) It scares me. Badly. More and more distracted drivers are on the road today for a variety of reasons–some of which are texting–but that’s not the full picture. Anything that takes your eyes from the road or your mind from what’s ahead of you can be distracting. And I admit that in times past I’ve been distracted myself. I’ve mixed bottles and fed babies over the backseat while driving. I’ve answered phone calls. I’ve been unsafe and I would guess that you probably have too at some point.
But it’s time to break our bad habits.
Here are some statistics on distracted driving that may surprise you:
- In 2011, 23% (1.3 million) car crashed involved cell phone use
- Texting while driving makes your chance of a car crash 23 times higher
- 77% of young adults are confident they can safely drive and text
- 3,331 people were killed in crashes with a distracted driver in 2011
- 30 states in the U.S. have banned texting while driving
Here are five tips to avoid distracted driving from our friends at AAA:
- Be hard headed. Don’t let anything distract you from the road. Watch your mirrors and keep an eye out for pedestrians. If you need to pull over, do so.
- Secure any loose items that may roll or fall while driving BEFORE you start moving.
- Make adjustments to your GPS, radio, air conditioner or seat before you start moving.
- Avoid eating in the car if possible and try to avoid foods that are messy or difficult to eat while driving. You should see me eat a taco in the car…not good.
- Enlist the help of a passenger in the car if possible. For small children who need your assistance, always pull off the road–it’s worth those extra few moments.
And of course, always leave your cell phone (even a hands free one) and electronic devices safely stored until you reach your destination or pull over to talk, text or email. Let’s be safe for ourselves, for the people we love and for the ones we share the road with.