The National Highway Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts a driver’s attention while operating a vehicle: talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, applying makeup, reaching for your bag, holding a pet, and fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system.
However texting while driving is the most alarming and serious distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for, on average, 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed, which leaves plenty of time to miss changing road conditions, pedestrians or bikers, sudden stops, cars changing lanes, etc.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving?
While there are laws and fines in place to put a stop to distracted driving, there’s plenty we can do to prevent ourselves from driving distracted and make the roads safer for all. Let’s start with these helpful tips…
- Turn your Phone on Do Not Disturb – the best way to avoid the temptation to use your phone while driving is to turn your phone on Do Not Disturb. That way, you won’t be alerted if anyone calls or texts, which will prevent you from glancing at or picking up your phone. Some phones even have a designated Do Not Disturb While Driving that automatically texts someone back while you’re driving, notifying them that you are behind the wheel.
- Make a Playlist – it can be tempting to browse through music to find that perfect song while driving. Instead, try making a playlist with your favorite songs that will play throughout your drive.
- Keep Distractions Out of Reach – do you have a tendency to reach over to the passenger seat to eat some fries on your way home with dinner? Tempted to reapply lipstick or look over documents on your way to work? Try putting distractions like fast food fries, important work notes, or your makeup bag out of reach.
- Keep Pets Away from the Driver’s Seat – whether you’re taking your pet to the vet or just heading to the park, it’s always best to keep pets away from the driver’s seat, for your safety and theirs.
- Know Where You Are Going – before you set out for a new location, familiarize yourself with the route to avoid splitting your attention between the road and your GPS.
- Speak Up – if you’re riding in the car with someone who’s texting and driving, don’t be afraid to speak up. Let them know you are uncomfortable riding with someone who is distracted.
The Pennsylvania Association for Justice has partnered with EndDD.org and the Casey Feldman Foundation to provide drivers and parents with resources to educate themselves and their driving-age children on the importance of staying focused behind the wheel. PennDOT has its own resource site, Just Drive PA, which is available at www.JustDrivePA.org.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a distracted driver, contact our office today. In the meantime, pay attention when you’re on the road. The next text message you send or distraction you pay attention to at the wheel might cost you a lot more than a traffic ticket.