The US Department of Transportation held its second annual distracted driving summit yesterday. All the pertinent facts can be found through the government’s official website at www.distraction.gov. I won’t bore you with the statistics that their related studies show other than to say distracted driving is on the rise and the number of distractions are constantly increasing. Automobile manufacturers are making important safety changes in an effort to minimize potential distractions but ultimately the onus is on us to combat these distractions and prevent car accidents. Texting and teenagers seem to be the most obvious target of concern but from my own observations during my drive to work on the roads of Jacksonville (study to be rel’d at a later date), texting and just basic cell phone use is by no means just a teenage problem. Yes the teenagers are not as experienced behind the wheel but neither are a lot of you adults out there. It only takes a moment for a car accident to completely change your life, your family’s life or that of a complete stranger and their friends and family. In less than 6 hours one day this week, I read about three tragic accidents that lead to untimely deaths on our local roads and highways. Not all were caused by distractions but we may never know if distracted driving played a role in any of those car accidents. Hang up and drive is the best solution. Pull over and take that important call or read that e-mail. Unless you are carrying the nuclear football it can wait. In my humble opinion, it’s only going to get worse as our smart phones and mobile devices get even more advanced. Cell phones are not the only common driving distractions. Here’s a sample list of other common distractions:
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a PDA or navigation system
- Watching a video
- Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player
Please take some time to think about your normal driving routine and maybe even write a list of your own distractions you create every day. Share and compare with other drivers in your household and workplace and let’s make Jacksonville a safer place to drive.