What is the most common cause of vehicle crashes? Distracted driving is at the top of the list. According to the results of research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (2016), “Drivers more than double their crash risk when they choose to engage in distracting activities that require them to take their eyes off the road, such as using a handheld cell phone, reading or writing, or using touch screen menus on a vehicle instrument pane. And … drivers engage in some type of distracting activity more than 50 percent of the time they are driving.”
Approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured every day in the U.S. in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving,” the CDC warns. The impact of distraction due to using electronic devices is among the reasons for the 14 percent increase in traffic fatalities from 2014 to 2016.
CDC researchers have defined three main types of distraction while driving:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving
“Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.”
North Carolina law bans texting for all drivers while their vehicles are in motion. This means that you are not allowed to compose, read or send text messages or e-mails while driving. “You can be pulled over by a police officer and get a ticket for texting while driving, even if you haven’t committed some other traffic violation,” warns dmv.com. However, texting while sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle that is stopped or parked is not illegal.
Advocate Health Care offers a list of suggestions to help avoid the dangers of distracted driving:
- Plan your route ahead of time and cue up your playlist before you hit the road.
- Don’t eat or do any personal grooming while driving.
- Don’t drive when tired. Drowsiness can be equally as dangerous as driving drunk.
- Invite a friend along for the ride. An adult passenger can help you by monitoring traffic and warning you about potential dangers.
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