Distracted driving is the cause of thousands of deaths. What you may not realize is that distracted driving goes way beyond texting and driving, although texting is one of the worst offenders. Distracted driving has also been around since the advent of cars. New technology allows us to make phone calls, dictate texts or emails, and update social media while driving—all actions that are proven to increase crash risk. The National Safety Council observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to this epidemic of unsafe distracted driving. NSC wants to empower you to put safety first and Take Back Your Drive.
In partnership with the National Safety Council, I decided to take a week away from doing all things phone related in the car for Distracted Driving Awareness Month. I don’t text and drive anyway, but I do talk on the phone. In my mind, it didn’t seem that unsafe; I’d talk to a passenger if they were in the car. Well, the difference is that a passenger is also in the car with you and can be an extra set of eyes and ears; the person on the other end of the phone cannot. While I am definitely one of those who would stop talking to concentrate harder, leaving the other person on the line in silence for a few moments, not everyone is able to compartmentalize like that. In fact, most people are not. Listen to audio books, texting, talking on the phone are all forms of distracted driving because your attention is somewhere other than at the wheel. Being a more focused driver means being a more attentive driver. My daughter and I saw a lady on her phone in her hand with a dog on her lap last week. What the what? I can’t even.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey found 20% of drivers age 18–20 said texting does not affect their driving, and nearly 30% of drivers ages 21–34 said texting has no impact. We've all seen distracted drivers on the road and we know what they perceive is simply untrue. Your eyes cannot be on the road and your phone at the same time. Period.
Car manufacturers are in all racing to make vehicles as connected as possible and make their the best and easiest to use—but at what cost? Research is showing that voice-activated technologies may be distracting, which means they are not a good alternative to using a cell phone while driving.
Dashboard technology seems like it should make our car rides safer, but the reality is, and the data is showing, that it does the opposite: it puts us more at risk because it distracts us from driving. Just because that Bluetooth hands-free connectivity comes installed in your vehicle does not mean it is a safe choice, nor does it mean it isn’t a distraction. Same with your navigation system or the ability to stream your favorite audio book or music. Multitasking technology is about convenience, not safety.
Take Back Your Drive
Take the Focused Driver Challenge and pledge to drive cell free. You can pledge to your children or other loved ones that you will be an attentive driver. Share your pledge on social media if you'd like.