We’ve all seen the billboards about not texting and driving, and studied the lesson in our drivers’ education courses. However, while we’ve all heard of the dangers of texting and driving, distracted driving goes so much further than just texting.
Why is this such an important topic? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving killed 3,522 in 2021. They define distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” These activities vary in range, and include texting, talking on the phone, talking to others in your vehicle, eating, changing the radio station, and much more.
We spoke with our Loss Control expert, Kirby Wilmore, about the importance of maintaining awareness, this month and every month. Mr. Wilmore agrees with the NHTSA - that lesser-known distractions are just as dangerous as texting. He states “[c]ell phone use aside, drivers engage in many other behaviors that can cause distraction at a key time and where drivers can become complacent – until the accident occurs." We are all guilty of habits that are second nature, so creating an awareness of them is crucial. "These include looking around and not on the road, drinking or eating, adjusting controls or radios, or fatigue.” Fatigue is an exceptionally dangerous driving condition, that many of us don’t consider, when we think about distractions - you can check out our hints on helping avoid fatigued driving.
Mr. Wilmore also answered other questions to help combat distracted driving:
From both Wilmore and the NHTSA, we learn that preparation is key. However, there are other steps you can take to combat distracted driving. At the top of the list - lead by example. Parents should not text and drive, and should make sure to avoid other distractions, when driving. This becomes especially important, when a child is in the vehicle.
Making it home safely is always the goal, and the primary reason to drive safely. However, distracted driving infractions have other consequences, as well. For young drivers, while they have their graduated drivers licenses (GDL), a distracted driving infraction could mean a suspension or delay in obtaining their license, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This a great reminder for all drivers – tickets, suspensions, and fines can result at all levels of licensure, due to distracted driving infractions. Be sure to check your local regulations and laws, to ensure you’re compliant. Always play it safe, get to where you need to be, without distractions.
For more resources about distracted driving, please visit our Reduce Distracted Driving page.
Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration page on Distracted Driving Awareness month. You can find more information on distracted driving, on the NHTSA’s Distracted Driving page.
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