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Distracted Driving: The Hard Truth and How to Make a Meaningful Difference

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Nowadays, it's become second nature to multi-task our way through life. We have demanding jobs, busy lifestyles and households to maintain. It never stops.

So it comes as no surprise that distractions pour into every facet of our lives, including while we drive, with more and more people finding themselves in hospitals every year as a result of distracted driving.

A recent study released by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that engaging in sub-tasks while driving triples the risk of crashing. But in a world of distractions, how do we re-focus our attention on the road?

As the old saying goes, “In order to solve a problem, you must first define it.”

So, what is distracted driving? Is it texting or talking on the phone? Is it playing loud music or arguing with the kids in the backseat?

Everyone’s definition of distracted driving is different — and therein lies our problem.

As defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is any non-driving activity we engage in while operating a vehicle that increases our risk of crashing.

The NHTSA breaks down distractions into three distinguishable types:

Visual – taking our eyes off the road
Manual – taking our hands off the wheel
Cognitive - taking our mind off driving

Woman driving car distracted by phone

Any activity that falls into one of these categories is considered distracted driving. So if you're ready to make a meaningful difference and put an end to this deadly behavior, embrace our strategy below.

Make a Meaningful Difference

In order to increase safety and decrease distracted driving, a grassroots effort needs to happen at the local and state level. It all starts with concerned community members pooling their efforts together.

Education
It's been well-documented that young drivers (ages 16 to 20) are more likely than any other age group to end up in fatal crashes as a result of distracted driving. Most haven't experienced a car accident and believe they're "good" at texting while driving.

Discussing the dangers and legal consequences of driving distracted with young drivers through education in schools and drivers education classes should be front and center. Distraction.gov is a great resource for educators to gather statistics, videos and other compelling materials.

Legislation
Do you know what distracted driving laws are enforced in your home state? Each state has its own unique legislation when it comes to anti-texting and no handheld phone laws. Check out this interactive document to find out exactly what is or isn't against the law in your state.

If you aren't happy with your current legislation or the overall awareness of it, here are a few actions to take:

  • Contact your state representative's office and ask questions about the plans they have to decrease distracted driving.
  • Create a Facebook page and start a dialogue about distracted driving laws and potential solutions in your area.
  • Write an editorial in your local newspaper about the issue to raise awareness.

Law Enforcement
Have you ever not worn a seat belt, only to see a police officer in your rear view mirror? How fast did you "click it" before you got that "ticket?"

Research shows highly visible law enforcement is extremely effective when rolling out a new law or enforcing an existing one. Why? Well, oddly enough, the fear of receiving a ticket and potentially losing money outweighs the fear of bodily harm or death.

Because of this, some local police departments are testing the use of a textalyzer, which helps officers determine if someone was texting while driving.

Community Partnerships
When community organizations partner with concern citizens over a common cause, everyone benefits.

Think about some of the most relevant organizations in your community. Would those businesses or non-profits make sense to partner with to raise awareness about distracted driving?

As our busy lives continue to get busier, and as technology continues to advance, distracted driving will always be a temptation. Take our tips and implement a unique strategy that will work for you. Together we can ensure Safe Travels™ for all.


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