Distracted driving is officially an epidemic in the U.S., with the U.S. Department of Transportation reporting that during any given moment in the daytime, around 481,00 drivers are using electronic devices while driving. In the year 2019, distracted driving took the lives of 3,142 people. Texting, talking, eating and drinking, handling the stereo or navigation system can all amount to a dangerous distraction. All of these activities increase your risk of accidents. The Auto Alliance states, "The odds of a crash double if your eyes are off the road for more than two seconds."
Who is Most Likely to Be Distracted?
The NHTSA reports that among drivers involved in fatal accidents, those aged 15 to 19 were most likely to be distracted. In this age group, 8% of drivers were distracted when an accident occurred, compared to only 6% of drivers aged 20 to 29. The CDC echoes this information. In 2019, this organization carried out a survey of highschool students which showed that 39% of participants who drove in the previous 30 days used their phone to text or send emails while they were driving.
Signs of Distracted Driving
Drivers should not only keep their eyes on the road but also look out for distracted drivers in their midst. Signs to look out for include driving in and out of lanes (or driving in a zig-zag), running red lights or ignoring traffic signs, big changes in speed, hitting the brakes suddenly and frequently, and not using signals when turning or changing lanes. To protect yourself against distracted drivers, invest time in defensive driving classes, keep a safe distance from other cars, and anticipate the actions of other vehicles. As an extra precaution, you should install a dashcam so you can have visual evidence of other drivers' behavior. This can come in handy if they cause a crash.
Relying on Technology
In order to fight the temptation to text or use your phone while driving, consider installing apps like DriveMode, EverDrive, or LifeSaver. DriveMode, for instance, silences alerts and calls once your car reaches a speed of 15mph and sends automatic replies to those who contact you if you wish. LifeSaver, meanwhile, can be used by employers wishing to stay on top of fleet driver performance. EverDrive rates you on aspects like acceleration, braking, speed, and phone use, giving you a grade that you can compare to those of friends and family.
Embracing Car Safety Features
As an extra backup, it can help to drive a car that has features that can help keep your eyes on the road. Just a few technologies that can inform you that you need to seriously change your habits when taking the wheel include driver monitoring systems that alert you if your hands are off the wheel, lane departure warnings, lane keeping assist, and lock out controls for on-screen keyboards. These controls stop you from typing in commands while your vehicle is in movement.
Distracted driving causes over 3,000 deaths a year in the U.S. Statistics indicate that younger drivers are the main group to watch out for, though older drivers, too, have been involved in many accidents involving distracted driving. To boost road safety, watch out for signs of distracted driving in others, download apps that can help you resist the temptation to use smartphones and other gadgets, and when you are shopping for a car, choose one with as many safety features as possible.