The Dangers of Distractions
By: Kae-Lynn Lowe | TextLess Live More Engagement Board
In today’s society, distractions are everywhere. Unfortunately, they are far too common behind the wheel. As a driver, you hold an immense amount of responsibility that could quickly become lethal with the influence of distractions. This form of impairment is often defined as any activity that diverts attention away from the primary task of driving. NHTSA has found distracted driving to be incredibly dangerous, as thousands of lives are claimed as a result of distracted driving alone, each year.
Experts group types of distractions into three different categories: manual, visual, and cognitive. When you remove your hands from the wheel, for example, to adjust the radio, you are manually distracted. If you are looking at your phone or GPS device while driving, you are visually distracted. Lastly, if you let your mind wander away from your complete focus on the road, you are cognitively distracted. This could happen as a consequence of listening to an audiobook, using hands-free features on your phone or simply talking to another passenger in the vehicle. One of the most common acts of distracted driving is texting and driving. Unfortunately, texting is a triple-threat task, creating a manual, visual, AND cognitive distraction.
According to NHTSA, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. By texting and driving, you are also skyrocketing your risk of a crash or near-crash by 23 times.
The consequences of distracted driving are ultimately irreversible. When you are behind the wheel, your primary task is driving. Texting your friend, sipping your latte, or applying your makeup can all wait until the vehicle is in park. Eliminate the risk of a crash by pledging to drive distraction-free. As a member of the TextLess Live More Engagement Board, I consider myself a strong advocate for this organization’s mission: end distracted driving, prevent tragic crashes, & save lives. As teens, we are the best messengers to our peers. Influence your friends to jump on the safety-first bandwagon and keep the phone out of sight and out of mind when behind the wheel. Encourage your friends to get involved with your local SADD chapter to continue the spread of the TextLess Live More mission. If you are passionate about leading the fight to end distracted driving, speak up! Take your advocacy efforts to social media, community meetings, and even media and news outlets. If you are not satisfied with the legislation surrounding the issue of distracted driving in your state, be the difference!
When it comes to perfecting your driving skills, eliminating any distractions that could inhibit your ability to focus on the road is one of the first steps you should take each time you get in the driver's seat - along with buckling up your seat belt, of course! SADD and The National Road Safety Foundation have teamed up to bring you the #DrivingSkills101 Passport to Safe Driving. As you continue to practice and perfect your driving skills, to take advantage of all that this resource has to offer you as a teen driver. Check it out!