Distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents, especially with the rise of cell phone use and texting. Craig sees about 43% of its spinal cord and brain injury patients due to vehicular accidents, so we know that less distracted driving could make a big difference in safety.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any visual or auditory activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. Examples of distracted behaviors include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or iPhone
Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most dangerous for both the driver and all others on the road.
Understanding the Distracted Brain
There are three types of distraction (And texting involved all three!): Visual, Manual, and Cognitive.
Human Brains are unable to effectively perform two cognitively complex tasks at the same time, such as driving and talking on a cell phone.
Drivers using hands-free and handheld cell phones have a tendency to “look at” but not “see” objects. Estimates indicate drivers using cell phones look at but fail to see up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment. Source: www.nsc.org
The Consequences of a Distracted Brain
- Drivers using cell phones are four times as likely to be in a crash. About 1 out of every 4 motor vehicle crashes involves cell phone use.
- National Safety Council estimates that 26% of crashes involve talking on hand-held and hands-free cell phones. Hands-free is not risk-free. Hands-free phones do not eliminate cognitive distraction.
- Sending text or email messages while driving draws a driver’s eyes, mind, and hands away from the road.
- Drivers who are texting are 8 to 23 times more likely to cause a crash.
- Driving distracted is as dangerous as driving intoxicated.
- Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.
Hands-free is just as dangerous as hand-held. Hands-Free is not risk-free!
10 Tips for Taking Action Against Distracted Driving
Taking all of the research on distracted driving into account, the experts from Craig's Driving and Adaptive Transportation program have provided 10 tips to help you take action against distracted driving.
- Pay attention.
- Avoid distractions like texting, talking on the phone, or playing games while driving.
- Put your phone away when driving.
- Pull over and park in a safe location if a call or text is absolutely necessary.
- Change your voicemail greeting to inform callers you are on the road and will return their call when you can do so safely. Install an app that blocks text messages, phone calls and other alerts when driving, turn on “do not disturb”or airplane mode.
- Discourage others from calling or texting you while you’re driving.
- Have passengers manage your phone for you.
- Prepare before you drive. Review maps, adjust your radio, eat, and make any phone calls needed before you drive.
- Request phone-free driving when you are a passenger.
- Model safe driving behavior.
Cellphone Apps to Prevent Distracted Driving
There are many free apps available to prevent your cellphone from becoming a distraction while you’re driving. To find apps to help you or your children drive distraction-free, check with your cellphone provider or visit the app store on your phone and search “distracted driving” For more information, stats, and resources visit: www.distraction.gov or www.nsc.org
Distracted driving is becoming an epidemic on our roadways. The use of electronics in the vehicle is at an all-time high due to the majority of drivers owning smartphones, navigation devices, video players, etc.
The summer months also see higher traffic and also a higher number of vehicle crashes, so keep these tips top of mind during the summer.