How Can We Improve Distracted Driving Statistics?

 

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic deaths in the United States. This driving habit can take many forms, from texting behind the wheel to drowsy driving. Altogether, in the year of 2018, more than 2,800 people were killed by distracted drivers. The fatalities included over 1,700 motorists, another thousand passengers and pedestrians, and almost 80 bicyclists. Across the state of Texas, there is a staggering rise in distracted driving accidents. The devastation has continued across the United States as well. Yet many individuals, organizations, and state governments are working to offer a glimmer of hope for improvement. 

What Exactly is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving can take many forms, all of which are equally dangerous, as they take the driver’s attention away from the road. Some of the most common types of this habit include the following:

  • Use of mobile devices: Whether chatting away on the phone or texting, drivers that pay too much attention to their mobile devices when behind the wheel are responsible for about 26% of all vehicle collisions. 
  • Adjustments of dash controls: Fiddling with the radio, GPS, temperature controls, and similar actions may seem harmless, but they also actively remove your attention from the road. The seconds-long glance at the vehicle controls could take away your chance to avoid a suddenly stopped vehicle or other surprise hazards in the road. 
  • High-energy children and pets: If your kids and pets are rowdy and excessively moving about in the vehicle, this may block your view in the mirrors and windows, as well as divide your attention as you try to calm them down.  

These are only a few examples of what entails distracted driving. For these behaviors and more, what can be done to reduce the injuries and fatalities that result from the consequential divided attention?

What is Being Done to Mitigate the Impacts of Distracted Driving?

The first step to protecting yourself and others from the hazards of distracted driving is educating yourself. One way you can begin to understand the gravity of the decision to engage in such a driving habit is to educate yourself on its harsh realities.

For instance, you can drive defensively knowing that one out of every five drivers is surfing the web while sharing the road with you. Further, choosing to text while behind the wheel can increase your risk of collision by 23 times. Do your part by silencing or powering off your cellphone when you’re about to get on the road. Educate your teens as well, since about one out of every ten drivers younger than 20 years old were discovered to be distracted during fatal car crashes. 

State governments are working to curb the habit by introducing stricter legislation as a deterrence. Offenders of distracted driving laws, for example, may face steeper consequences when they violate the legislation. Yet, since states can enforce varying laws for this issue, this legal response must be more widespread to have a stronger effect in the long-term.

App developers and insurance companies can also get involved by offering incentives to drivers who abide by distracted driving laws. If legal deterrents prove to be ineffective for certain demographics, perhaps positive reinforcement may do the trick. Ultimately, the choice to engage in safe driving patterns is an individual one, and one that you must undergo on your own. When you choose to improve your driving, encourage friends to do the same to make U.S. roads safer for everyone. 

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