Distracted Driving During the Holidays

Distracted Driving During the Holidays

We’ve all seen the driver who merges onto the highway while texting. Or the person making a risky left turn with one hand on the wheel and the other on a phone. Distracted driving is everywhere, and during the holidays, when there are so many extra dangers on the road in Macon and beyond, it’s even more important to stay sharp.

What Is Distracted Driving?

In the United States, an average of nine people die each day and 1,000 are injured as a result of distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s possible, however, those numbers are underreported, especially when you consider the definition of distracted driving is much broader than just texting. It can be anything that takes your full attention from the road, including talking on the phone (even hands-free), using your car’s navigation system, or checking social media apps.

Texting and interacting with social media is especially dangerous, as it touches on all three types of distracted driving—visual, manual and cognitive—taking your eyes, hands and mind off the road.

The Dangers of Texting While Driving

Writing or reading a text takes your eyes away from the road for about 5 seconds. Traveling at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving across a football field—goal post to goal post—all with your eyes closed.

Drivers who are interacting with their phones may weave out of their lane, rear-end stopped or slowing cars in front of them, miss changing lights or flagmen, and fail to see pedestrians or cyclists.

And even after the text is sent and the driver’s eyes are back on the road, it can take 27 more seconds for the driver’s attention to catch back up to the task at hand.

The Dangers of Using Social Media While Driving

Fortunately, there’s growing awareness that texting and driving are not only illegal in most states, but is incredibly dangerous, as well. However, that understanding has not extended to include social media as a top distracted driving risk.

A study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) found that 68 percent of teens said they use apps while driving, compared to just 27 percent who said they texted. Teens also tended to rank using social media apps below texting and drunk driving in terms of dangerousness.

In reality, social media apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can be just as distracting as texting. They draw the driver’s attention away again and again for quick glances, “likes,” and double-taps.

How to Avoid Being a Distracted Driver

So how do you avoid texting and driving, or encourage your teen to stay off social media in the car? Here are a few ideas:

  • Put away the phone: Keep your phone out of reach and on silent.
  • Make a pledge: Sign a commitment to avoid distractions while driving and ask your family to join you. Sometimes writing your goal on paper makes it feel more serious. If you’re giving your teen a new mobile device this holiday season, it might be the perfect time to also make the commitment to use it safely.
  • Check out blocking apps: If the temptation is too strong, or if conversations with your teen are not working, you can add a blocking service to your plan, or even download an app for free.
  • Practice safe navigation: Plug in your destination to a GPS before you head out. If you need to adjust your itinerary, pull over.  

Distractions can wait, and no text, tweet or snap is worth hurting yourself or someone else. If you’ve been in an accident involving a distracted driver, Macon personal injury attorneys Buzzell, Graham & Welsh are here to help. Call us today for a free consultation. And from our families to yours, have a happy holiday season and a safe New Year.