Automobile, Safety and Weather
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
About 3,000 people die in distracted-driving related accidents in the U.S. every year (cdc.gov). The phrase “eyes on the road” has never been more important than it is today. Whether it’s kids in the backseat, friends in the front, a small snack or a noisy cell phone, there are so many ways to get distracted while driving.
And it’s not just teen drivers. Take one look at the drivers around you at any given time, and you’ll see people of all ages doing things behind the wheel besides focusing on their surroundings. It takes just one false move, one split-second, for those distractions to turn deadly.
The good news is many of the things that cause distracted driving are avoidable and highly preventable. But before we talk about preventing distracted driving, let’s define it first.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is when you do something that takes your full attention away from driving your vehicle. It could be anything from talking or texting on your cell phone, to eating or drinking, to talking to passengers, to adjusting the stereo or GPS. Basically, any activity you engage in while driving that isn’t driving-related can be a distraction. And you can’t drive safely unless the actual task of driving has your full, undivided attention.
What are the different types of distracted driving?
According to www.cdc.gov, there are three main types of distracted driving.
1. Visual – taking your eyes off the road
2. Manual – taking your hands off the wheel
3. Cognitive – taking your mind off driving
The deadly consequences of distracted driving.
Lives lost, families broken, victims mourned…these are the biggest and deadliest consequences created by distracted drivers. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020 alone:
- 3,142 people were killed by distracted driving
- Nearly 600 pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-occupants were killed in distracted-driving crashes
- Nearly 300 people died in crashes involving a distracted teen driver
What are the state laws for distracted driving?
Nearly all 50 states have some level of distracted driving laws regarding cell phone use. Here are the laws as of March 2020 for states where many Alfa® customers live.
How can teens help stop distracted driving?
Here are a few quick yet crucial tips you can share with your teenager to help prevent distracted driving:
Put away the cell phone.
If they use their cell phone while driving, they increase their risk of a crash. A recent study indicated that the chances of crashing are up to six times greater when using a cell phone — texting or talking.
Keep passengers to a minimum.
Teen passengers in a car can distract a beginning driver, and teen drivers often give their friends a lift — both of which make for potential distracted-driving dangers on the road. Talk with your teen and set limits for how many passengers are allowed in the car.
Create a contract.
Have your teen make a pledge to prevent distracted driving. The National Safety Council offers a printable contract that your teen (and everyone in your family) can sign.
How can parents help stop distracted driving?
As a concerned parent, you have the power to help prevent distracted driving, not just with your teen driver, but in your community as well.
- Be a good influence on your teen driver. New drivers learn a lot by example, so practice your own safe driving by putting away any and all possible distractions beforehand (that includes your cell phone).
- Ask about apps. Major wireless carriers provide or recommend apps that limit phone use while driving. DriveMode from AT&T is a good example, while Verizon recommends several apps to curb texting while driving.
- Get involved. Speak up at community meetings about distracted driving awareness, support local laws, and help put a spotlight on the dangers of distracted driving in your area through social media and local publications.
For more tips and statistics on distracted driving, and to learn about auto insurance options for you and your teen driver, contact your local Alfa agent today.