It’s the holidays, and it’s time for some fun! I’m headed to two family dinners in two different remote towns (can’t wait for the turkey and meat pies), and I’m not going to be the only one going away for the holidays. Many of us will be on the road. Which is why we need to have a word on safe driving!
By now, most people know about the dangers of drinking and driving. People have done a good job of educating the public on it – and it shows in the decreasing number of deaths and injuries caused by drunk driving in Canada and the US. It’s still a real problem, but the problem is getting resolved.
That’s why today I focus on an even more dangerous form of impaired driving: Distracted driving from texting and other cell phone use. That’s the “other kind of mobile security” to which the title refers (please pardon the “mobile security” pun).
Why Texting and Driving is a Bad Idea
One study found that texting while driving is now the leading cause of deaths of teens in America. In 2013, over 3000 teens were killed from driving distracted by a mobile device. Meanwhile, alcohol-related teen deaths clocks in at 2700 teens per year. The texting-related deaths shouldn’t be surprising; in the US, 50% of teens admit to texting while driving.
A second study found that among Millennials in particular:
- 28% talk on the phone while driving
- 27% read text while driving
- 24% send text messages while driving.
Worse yet is that this behaviour doesn’t seem to get better over time. Drivers in their 20s make up 27% of deaths involving distracted driving. And if trends keep up, it will be a vicious circle. At present, at least part of the reason for which there’s texting and driving is that it’s a learned behaviour: 50% of Millenials said that they’d seen their parents talking on the phone while driving; another 28% witnessed their parents texting and driving.
With all of these factors, it’s no surprise that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds mobile phones to be the second leading cause of death through distraction. It really is time we did something about texting and driving. Here are three steps that can help us cut down this risky activity!
Step 1: Make a Pledge in the Leave the Phone Alone Campaign
And here’s one way to start! “Leave the Phone Alone” is a road safety awareness campaign that promotes distraction-free driving.
The campaign website highlights several key facts:
- Drivers are up to 4 times more likely to get into crashes if they use hand-held devices while driving
- Even with hands-free, they still react much more slowly
- Around 80% of crashes happened after drivers looked away for just 3 seconds.
The short of it is, when you text and drive, you’re putting your life and that of others at risk. To take a first step toward getting rid of that risk, you can pledge to leave your phone alone while driving. With this pledge, you’re making a promise to avoid distractions while driving by not using a hand-held electronic device when you’re behind the wheel.
Step 2: Get Informed and Educate Others!
To take a second step, learn more about the dangers! To make this easy, the National Safety Council has made some very helpful infographics:
- “Hands-free is not risk-free”
- “The great multi-tasking lie”
- “Driving down distraction”
- “Cell Phone Crash Data & Under-Reporting”
Step 3: Educate Others!
This last step seems obvious, but it’s all too easy to forget. Once you’ve learned the facts on distracted driving, actively spread the word. You remember the infographics that I just linked to? We can (and probably should) share all of them.
Final Words for Now
Those are the three big ways you can do your part do curb distracted driving. It’s really not hard to do, but all of the above steps will go a long way toward making the roads safer. One more thing to note is that, even if we slip up, the police have been really ramping up their efforts in catching and fining motorists who use cell phones while driving. Basically, there’s no good reason to take a chance on distracted driving!
Here at Cimpl we really care about our community. That’s why we’re in full support of reducing distracted driving as much as possible. We’ve written about this before, and we will continue to do what we can to make the roads safer. Remember, it’s the holidays, after all, and it should be a time of cheer. One way to ensure that cheer is to make sure we all get to and from our loved ones, safe and sound.
Drive safe, and happy holidays!