Showing posts with label road safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label road safety. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Keep Your Hands on the Wheel

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You are sixteen years old and you've just received your license. You are about to hit the road and enjoy a short drive in your new set of wheels, but Mom won’t stop lecturing you about road safety. You laugh, thinking that you are mature and have learned car safety by now just from watching the people around you. After all, statistics show that 48% of young drivers have seen their parents talking on a cell phone while driving and 15% have witnessed their parents texting and driving. They survived. Why wouldn't you? 

Sadly, this could very well be the mindset of today’s drivers, and those statistics are true. Did you also know that 77% of young adults are somewhat to very confident that they can safely text while driving? Or that 55% think it’s easy to text and drive?

MYTH: It’s okay as long as you text and drive safely. There are plenty of ways to justify your phone usage while driving, especially if you are only reading a text instead of composing one. Here are some commonly held safety tips:

  • Hold your phone so that the windshield is in the background; you’ll have greater visibility that way. 
  • Be sure to keep a longer following distance from the car in front of you.
  • Only text at a stop sign or red light.

Does this sound sensible to you? I hope not! Texting while driving is dangerous— no matter what the circumstances are. In fact, it causes nearly 25% of all driving accidents and is recorded to be six times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving. These are scary statistics that should be taken seriously. Your health and safety is a priority. Don’t make excuses to “just send a quick text” while driving. It could get you killed, or otherwise seriously injured. Just ask Wil, who is suffering from a severe, permanent traumatic brain injury because he was the passenger in a car driven by someone who was reading a text message while driving.

If the value of your own safety is not enough to keep you from texting while driving, imagine how you would feel if an accident and injury affected someone you know, possibly a child, or inflicted a devastating injury to a passenger in your own car. There are other lives at stake; consider more than your own. Don’t ruin a family’s holidays by taking the life of their mother, father, or child through reckless actions.

The reality of the situation is that your reaction time is drastically shortened if you are texting and driving. It's wiser to keep your attention solely focused on the road. Not only is it unsafe, but it could also be a hefty ticket to pay. Currently, 39 states plus the District of Columbia have outlawed texting and driving. More states may follow.

To showcase the dangers of texting and driving most effectively, young adults in Belgium were actually asked to try texting while driving on a crash course and avoiding obstacles. The drivers are told that they must prove their ability to text and drive in order to obtain their license. While trying to do this during their test, they express their frustrations with the impossibility of the task. Participants did not pass the test and many exclaimed that, “People will be killed on the road.” The purpose of the experiment is clear: to illustrate the impossibility of texting and driving safety, and to show the risk of injury. 

Please share this article with friends and family, especially those you know text while driving. Before you think twice about keeping this to yourself, be aware that 1/3 of your commuting colleagues are guilty of putting their lives in danger with this risky driving behavior. Sharing the link to this article, or simply having a conversation with those close to you could save someone’s life. The most effective way to stop this behavior, in addition to preventative laws, is to make texting and driving generally socially unacceptable in our culture. Be a part of that movement and take a stand. Take the Text Free Driving Pledge and encourage your friends, kids and colleagues to do the same.

To learn more about texting and driving and to the view laws of your specific state, visit the Governors Highway safety Association website. 

Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer