We are indeed a nation of multitaskers, and we give ourselves pats on the backs for accomplishing so much daily. But while we may pride ourselves on this juggling act, at the office or at home, a key place where it doesn’t work is in the car. There, reaching for that cell phone or balancing a drive-through burger can cost you (or someone else) a life.
Cell phones are the biggest culprit, and our need for connectivity is not only strong, it’s dangerous. In fact, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) cites that at 55 miles per hour, an average text takes your eyes off of the road for 4.6 seconds — long enough to drive the length of a football field. Voice-to-text and other hands-free options do nothing more than provide a false sense of security, says the Texas A & M Transportation Institute. Do we really need to be watching movies while in the car? While installed DVD players may be aimed at entertaining the kids in the back seat, the film is still within the driver’s field of vision.
With nearly half a million people injured in the U.S. and about 3,000 killed due to distracted driving each year, it’s time to really ask ourselves: Is distracting ourselves while driving worth it?
Distracted driving also includes:
- Being sleep-deprived. Adults need seven to nine hours per night depending on age range, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Don’t doze and drive!
- Changing radio channels, or having the radio volume too high.
- Eating and drinking. (Never drink alcohol and drive. Don’t try to eat a meal either. Spilling hot coffee or a soft drink can also cause an accident if your beverage’s lid (or cup holder) isn’t secure.
- Fumbling with a map or a navigational system.
- Talking on the phone or to a passenger.
- Grooming in the mirror. Just wait until you’ve parked.
- Now is the time to quit!
Stop juggling your life in your car. Obey your state’s laws about cell phone use. Always wear your seat belt. Be smart, drive responsibly, and take it seriously. Being behind the wheel requires your full attention. It only takes a few seconds to turn your world (or someone else’s) upside down.
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano
Learn more, and take the pledge against distracted driving at www.distraction.gov.