Distracted driving, by this time we have all heard about it. If we are being truly honest, we have all been guilty of it as well. In the classic sense (i.e. before cell phones), just changing the channel on the car radio, or adjusting your mirror is ‘distracted driving.’ But the rise of those handy-dandy smartphones has driven incidents of distracted driving to unprecedented levels. While most of us like to believe that we are always in control of our vehicles, the reality is something different and here are five reasons why distracted driving can kill you.
You Are Not Focusing on the Road
While this should be self-explanatory the rise in distracted driving shows that most of us don’t give this fact much thought. However, the data points to another conclusion altogether. Department of Transportation recorded more than 3,000 people were killed and 431,000 people were injured in accidents involving distracted drivers in 2014 alone.
It’s not just teenagers. Based on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the reaction time of experienced drivers also suffered when they were texting while driving. As such incidents of ‘hard braking or making sharp turns or an overcorrection’ increased by as much as five times due to distracted driving.
As you can see, distracted driving is real and the consequences can result in death or permanent disfigurement.
It Makes the Road More Dangerous
Even if you are focusing on the road, the odds are that someone around you driving while texting. This can end up with you being hurt in an accident or even killed. The roads are already dangerous, so adding this variable only make them more dangerous.
Then the question becomes what can be done? Obvious steps include honing your defensive driving skills. These include not following too closely and clearly signaling your intentions. Another option is to outfit your car with front and rear facing cameras. This will help you to record incidents and will give you and your family the evidence needed if you are involved in an accident.
Reaction Time is Compromised
Like driving under the influence, your reaction time is compromised when driving while distracted. Even at 35 miles per hour, your reaction time can be three times as long if you are driving and texting.
Granted, the difference is less than a second but at this speed, your total stopping distance is roughly 136 feet. If you aren’t paying attention, then the lost reaction time could be the difference between life and death.
Just imagine being distracted on a two-lane road at night when an oncoming car veers into your lane. It’s basically game over, even if you are only traveling at 35 miles per hour.
Hands-Free Devices Don’t Really Work
While the law in most states supports the use of hands-free devices, the reality is that they don’t really work. Yes, using a hands-free device means that you don’t need to hold a phone to your ear while talking. However, the challenge is when you are looking up a number to dial as this is when your eyes are not focused on the road.
In addition, voice recognition systems are not perfect. As such, most people choose not to use them when driving. While this is a natural reaction, it might not be the best decision. Some ways to fix this are to preload regularly dialed numbers into your car or to simply pull over if you really need to make that phone call.
You Are More Likely to ‘Overcorrect’
This could include stopping fast, changing lanes, or even making quick turns without indicating your intentions. While these might be ‘controlled’ moves, they make it harder for those around you to react to what you are doing. As such, you are making yourself more likely to be involved in an accident.
Again, this can be corrected. If you are using a GPS device, then have it set to give you the details well in advance or have a co-pilot relay the instructions to you. If you are streaming music through your phone, then use the steering wheel controls.
Most importantly, if you need to send a message or make a phone call, then pull over. Just remember to signal your intentions well in advance as overcorrections can cause accidents or death.