Don’t Text and Drive Week
More than 300,000 accidents that occur each year involve a distracted driver. In a recent survey, nearly 60% of high school seniors admitted to texting or emailing while driving. National ‘Teens, Don’t Text and Drive’ Week was created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to educate teens and inform families on the dangers of distracted driving.
Sending or receiving a text while driving, takes your eyes from the road for an average of 5 seconds. If traveling at 55 MPH, that 5 seconds away from the road would equal the length of a football field in distance. Reaction times when texting are 37.4% slower, than those who are not distracted. To reduce this risk, try switching your phone onto silent or download an app that disables texting while your vehicle is in motion.
There are several other distractions that occur in a car that are often overlooked. These include:
- Other Passengers – Having another person in a vehicle can serve to either be an asset or a detriment to the trip. Teens often have other friends in the vehicle, and the excitement of the environment can be an unintended distraction. Have a conversation with your friends about keeping excessive noise or actions to a minimum en route. You can allow them to answer messages from your phone while you drive and/or give them control of the radio.
- Your Furry Friends – Even though pets can be your best roadie, they don’t realize the danger they can create. As your pet, they often are vying for your attention while you drive. 65% of dog-owning drivers admit to petting and holding their dog in their lap, reaching back, taking photos, and other distracting behaviors. Keep your pet safe by having them travel in a crate or a pet seat belt.
- Eating or drinking – People who eat or drink while driving have 44% slower reactions times. As a physical distraction, taking your hands of the wheel often is in tandem with focus and visual distraction. If possible take the time to park for a few minutes to enjoy your meal.
Parents, you can be a good example to your teen by having a conversation about the dangers of distracted driving as well as practicing what you preach. While they are in the car with you, be a leader to them and stay focused on the road so they learn by your example and keep those good habits when they are behind the wheel.