The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) declares that the month of April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month (1). Distracted driving is a traffic safety issue on our roadways. Distracted drivers and pedestrians are not just a danger to themselves; they are a danger to everyone else on the roadway. Efforts are centered on changing driver and pedestrian behavior through traffic safety countermeasures that may include legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education.
One of the countermeasure recommendations was released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as a result from the investigation of the Tesla fatal crash on March 23, 2018. This crash was a result of distracted driving as the driver of the Tesla vehicle was on a cell phone game application at the time of the crash and was relying on the vehicles "autopilot" technology to drive the vehicle. The recommendation is the "development of a distracted driving lock-out mechanism or application for portable electronic devices that will automatically disable any driver-distracting functions when a vehicle is in motion." The elimination of distraction is on the NTSB's Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements (1).
What are your thoughts on your state government enacting a law requiring you have a "distracted driving lock-out mechanism or application" to disable your electronic devices disabled while you are driving?
The following are SafeWay Driving's SAFE Choices regarding distracted driving:Put away Your Cell Phone - SAFE driving requires all of your attention. In case you haven't gotten it by now - Cell phones and driving can be a deadly combination. Put them away! This includes hands free. Whatever you think - YOU CANNOT SAFELY USE A CELL PHONE, EITHER FOR TALKING OR TEXTING WHILE DRIVING. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with cell phones:
- Put it somewhere you can't get to it so you will not be tempted to answer it.
- Let a call go to voicemail. No call is worth your life.
- NEVER try to read a text while driving. If you are expecting an important text, pull over to read it.
Dying to Text - Texting forces you to take your eyes off the road and at least one hand off of the steering wheel. Texting is a triple threat as it is a mental, manual and visual distraction. Distracted drivers can kill or be killed.
Leave the Electronics Alone - Don't mess with the radio, CDs, or GPS while you're driving. All of these things take your eyes off the road, at least for a second. Not a big deal, but if you do it excessively, those seconds add up and amount to precious minutes that your aren't looking the road. Especially in bad weather or in an unfamiliar area, those minutes could lead to a crash. Is that song worth someone's life?
Don't Let Passengers Distract You - Distracted drivers react more slowly to changing traffic conditions and road hazards. They fail to recognize other vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians and may even miss important signs and lights. Don't be afraid to tell passengers that they are being too loud or distracting. It isn't rude, but rather an indication of your concern for the safety of everyone in the vehicle. A teenager risky behavior increases and crash fatalities increase with the number of passengers in the vehicle with them.
Don't Eat and Drive- A quick trip through the drive-through, and before you know it, you're eating a double cheeseburger with one hand, french fries with the other, balancing a soda with your elbow and steering with your knees. Beyond being a recipe for indigestion, eating behind the wheel is unsafe and distracting.
No Grooming and Driving - Don't put on makeup or fix your hair while driving! Applying makeup and brushing your hair while driving can be extremely dangerous. Not only are you taking your eyes off the road but you also have something in your hand so you only have one hand on the wheel. Do your grooming at home!
Its important for everyone to do their part to limit the impact of Distracted Driving on our roadways. Our driver education programs include more SAFE Choices and Habits to make sure your teen driver is properly prepared to manage the responsibility of SAFE Driving. Learn more about our packages today!
- United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). (2020). Traffic Safety Marketing: Distracted Driving. https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/distracted-driving
- National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). (February 25, 2020). Tesla Crash Investigation Yields 9 NTSB Safety Recommendations. NTSB Media Relations. Washington, DC. https://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/NR20200225.aspx
- SafeWay Driving. (2020). SafeWay Driving Systems, SAFE Choices. www.safewaydriving.com