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Author:  David Griffiths, Insurance By Ken Brown, Inc.,
This article appeared in the November, 2014 issue of Florida Pool Pro

Distracted driving is an epidemic on America's roadways. You see it every day: Drivers swerving in their lanes, stopping at green lights, running red ones, or narrowly missing a pedestrian because they have their eyes and minds on their phones instead of the road. Yet, people continue to assume that they can drive and text or talk at the same time.


What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

·         Texting

·         Using a cell phone or smart phone

·         Eating and drinking

·         Talking to passengers

·         Grooming

·         Reading, including maps

·         Using a navigation system

·         Watching a video

·         Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player


Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

Consider the following facts:

1.  18% of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes
2.  In the month of June, 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US--up nearly 50% from June, 2009. (CTIA)
3.  11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.  This age group has the largest proportion of drivers  who were distracted.
4.  40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a sway that put people in danger. (Pew)
5.  Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Monash University)
6.  Text messaging creates a crash risk we times worse than driving while not distracted. (VTTI)
7.  Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent, at 55 mph, of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. (VTTI)
8.  Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.  (VTTI)
9.  Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.  (Carnegie Mellon)

The results are preventable accidents. In 2010, 3092 people were killed, and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to ending distracted driving.  They have created to raise awareness and provide information to people who want to get the facts on the issue, get involved in their communities, and help make our roads safer for all Americans.

There's one message everyone should hear loud and clear: the safest way to get from one place to another is to hang up and drive. Powering down your cell phone (and making sure your employees do, too) when you're behind the wheel can save lives - maybe even your own, your employee and maybe another innocent person.
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