Don’t be distracted while driving

  • Published
  • By Anthony Wilson
  • 99 ABW Safety Office
You get up, get dressed and are ready to start your day. You head out to the car, and down the driveway you go.

Upon pulling into the roadway, you take your eyes off the road and begin adjusting the car stereo to your favorite radio station. When you look back up, your vehicle is nearing the double yellow line in the middle of the street. Immediately you correct your path of traffic and proceed down the road.

Approaching an intersection, the traffic light is red so you stop and turn to talk to your child in the backseat who is correctly buckled in the car seat. While carrying on a conversation about the days planned events, you suddenly hear horns honking at you. When you turn back around to look ahead, the traffic light is green, but how long has it been that way.

Pulling through the intersection, only you and the vehicle behind you make it through before the light turns red again.

While cruising down the road, you hear that distinctive sound of your cell phone ringing. Instinctively you reach for the cell phone that is lying in the passenger seat.

Having to reach to retrieve your phone you take your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road while doing so. However, after all the time it took you to retrieve the phone, it stops ringing.

Placing the phone comfortably in your lap so you don't miss another call, you continue on your journey.

Within minutes the cell phone begins to beep indicating you have an incoming text message. Without even thinking, you grab the phone and immediately start to read the text. Holding the phone out of clear site so you don't get caught, you look down to read the message.

A friend wants you to stop by their house and text you the address. Of course you reply to the text message stating that you will be there soon.

While looking at the address, you begin to type it into your GPS device, again taking your eyes off the road. Upon looking back up to focus your attention on the road and traffic, you suddenly remember there was a school zone in the area but don't recall driving through it. Your next stop is the drive thru of your favorite fast food place where you grab your food at the window and continue on toward the address displayed on the GPS screen.

Burger in hand, fries in your lap and drink in the cup holder, you attempt to eat while driving down the road at 45 mph.

The GPS announces a sharp curve ahead; you think to yourself you can handle the curve. However, in the middle of the curve your drink begins to tip over and, without giving it much thought, you reach down to grab the cup causing you to swerve into the opposite travel lane. You barely catch it in time, swerve back into your proper lane, and finally arrive at your final destination safe and sound.

How many instances of distracted driving occurred during the above scenario? If you answered too many, you are correct. However, these are things we all do or see someone else doing on a daily basis.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one of every five car accidents causing injury involved at least one element of distracted driving and 16 percent of fatal accidents involved distracted driving.

Did you know sending and receiving a text message while driving takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of nearly five seconds?

I would bet the average has increased in most states now that cell phone use is prohibited while operating a vehicle. The reason being is most drivers hide the cell phone from plain view while sending or receiving a text to avoid being caught thus increasing the time not focusing on the task at hand.

The scenario above includes the top five causes of distracted driving which in no particular order are: adjusting the car stereo, turning to talk to passengers, using cell phones, GPS devices and eating or drinking while driving.

Of the top five, cell phone use is the leading cause of distracted driving. According to a study conducted by the University of Utah, cell phone usage while driving results in the same delayed reaction time as a person with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent.

Distracted driving should be avoided at all cost. Turn the cell phone off before getting behind the wheel, or if you must take a call or text safely, pull off the road and stop to do so.

Program your car stereo and your GPS device prior to operating a vehicle. Stop to eat or wait until you get to your destination before doing so.

Avoid conversation with passengers while driving, especially those that take your attention away from operating the vehicle.

The majority of schools in the Last Vegas area started back Aug. 26. This means children will be walking to school, crossing the streets, crossing guards will be out, frequent stops for school buses and school zones will be in effect.

Do not be the driver that did not see the child or be involved in an accident resulting in injury to anyone due to distracted driving.