Distracted drivers pose a deadly risk to everyone on the road

Distracted drivers pose a deadly risk to everyone on the road

  Pennsylvania drivers were cited 1,410 times for texting in 2014, according to statistics provided  by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Another 711 citations were issued to drivers who used headphones, combined the total number of citations for distracted driving was 2,121. Montgomery County led the state with 219 distracted driving citations, Philadelphia was second with 195 and Allegheny was 3rd with 163. Lackawanna County had 29 citations 11 for headphones and 18 for texting, while Luzerne County had 39 citations 21 for headphones and 18 for texting.   Pennsylvania has a “no texting” law for a driver which has been in effect since March 2012.  Research shows that if you text message while driving your risk of being involved in an accident increases by more than 20 X’s compared to a non-distracted driver.  At 55 miles per hour, a texting driver can travel the length of a football field without looking at the road. Pennsylvania law does not prevent drivers from talking on their cell phones, but talking and listening on a cell phone makes you 1.3 times more likely to be involved in an accident than a non-distracted driver. When drivers engage in a range of distracting activities from eating, reading, grooming or talking on their phones even with the use of hands-free technologies, there are still dangerous mental distractions.  Even when the drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, almost 80% of drivers believe that hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone.  NOT TRUE – this is not the case.  Many studies show that hands-free devices are no safer than the hand –held devices.  These studies show that conversation distracts your brain from the task of driving and slows your reaction to hazards.  When talking on a cell phone, drivers can miss seeing up to half of what is around them.  This can include but is not limited to traffic lights, stop sign and even pedestrians.  Here are 10 tips for managing some of the most common distractions while you are driving.
  • Turn it off your phone and put it out of sight and reach. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Then put it away so that it’s out of reach.
  • Spread the word. Record a message on your phone that tells callers you’re driving and will get back to them when you’re off the road, or sign up for a service that offers this feature.
  • Pull over. If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.
  • Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call or respond to a text for you.
  • X the Text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It’s dangerous and against the law.  Even voice-to-text isn’t risk-free.
  • Know the law. Familiarize yourself with the law, before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones in addition to texting.
  • Prepare. If using a GPS device, enter your destination before you start to drive. If you prefer a map or written directions, review them in advance. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to assist you or pull over to a safe location to change your GPS or review your map/directions.
  • Secure your pets. Unsecured pets can be a big distraction in the car.
  • Mind the kids. Pull over to a safe place to address situations involving children in the car.
  • Focus on driving. Multi-tasking behind the wheel is dangerous.  Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
     
May 12, 2015
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