How many drivers have you seen this week who are driving while distracted? It’s probably a lot. Technology is becoming more and more prevalent in our vehicles, and not just on our cell phones, but the vehicle itself. Dashboards on many vehicles today are becoming more like an iPad or tablet. And when the driver pushing buttons on her consul, or that Model 3 speeding behind you relying on his autonomous driver assistance system, become distracted by their vehicle’s technology, they are putting themselves and you at risk. These features, while fun and interactive, take your eyes and your mind off the road and can often lead to accidents.
Since 2021, there have been over 400,000 crashes in Florida. Around 56,000 of those accidents were related to distracted driving. That’s 56,000 accidents that may have been avoided if people had simply paid more attention to the road.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is anything that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, or your mind off driving. It is extremely risky behavior that puts everyone on the road in danger. We most often associate cell phone use with distracted driving, but any activity that diverts your attention from safe driving can put you at risk. Texting, talking on the phone, eating and drinking, and even talking to other passengers in the vehicle can take your mind off what you need to be doing – paying attention to the road and other drivers. Some states like Florida outlaw texting while driving, but you can still make phone calls and use your phones for navigation – except in a school or construction zone, where any phone activity while driving is prohibited. However, enforcing the law has been difficult and the threat of fines doesn’t always stop the practice.
As mentioned, distracted driving is not limited to the use of cell phones. Vehicles with built-in “infotainment systems” are equally distracting, yet much less strictly regulated. And car manufacturers continue to produce more engaging bells and whistles in their automobiles. These technologies were created to improve convenience, but actually overload our brains, which leads to driver distraction.
Entertainment Screens a Risk
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued guidelines to automakers, requiring that any vehicle entertainment system should be designed so the driver can’t use them to perform inherently distracting secondary tasks while driving. Such secondary tasks include watching a film or playing a video game. These features may now only be accessed while the car is in “park”.
Some have called on the NHTSA to exercise its authority to declare a vehicle defective and to seek a recall if it is in violation, and an NHTSA spokeswoman confirmed that, “The Vehicle Safety Act prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles with design defects posing unreasonable risks to safety.” As our cars get smarter, our laws will need to get smarter as well.
To put it simply, if you are not 100% focused on the road ahead, then you’re not 100% percent driving.
How to Protect Yourself from a Distracted Driving Accident
Below are 5 tips to better protect you and your loved one, and those around you from accidents, injuries and fatalities.
👉 Turn your phone off.
👉Never Text and Drive. (Pullover if need be).
👉If you’re in a car with someone texting while driving, tell
them to stop.
👉Pick a “designated texter” and always keep your eyes on
the road and your hands on the wheel.
👉 Save snacks and drinks for the table.
Don’t forget to Protect Yourself from Other Distracted Drivers.
Six tips to protect yourself from a wrong-way driver.
👉Move as far to the right as possible.
👉Avoid overly aggressive evasive reactions that may cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
👉Honk your horn, flash your headlights and turn on your hazard lights.
👉Pull over as soon as possible and call 911 to report the situation.
👉When driving at night on a multi-lane highway, travel in the center lane so you can move to the right or left to avoid a wrong-way driver.
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