Distracted driving a Serious Safety Concern
Distracted, or inattentive driving, is on the rise. It seems like there is no end to the electronic toys available to pull us away from that oh-so-boring task of keeping our eyes on the road. It’s become enough of a problem that the U.S. Department of Transportation has a website dedicated just to this problem – www.distraction.gov.
There is an archived summit webcast on the site that informs us:
States continue to recognize the problem and create laws specifically designed to ticket cell phone users and other types of distraction offenses.
Distracted driving killed more than 5,000 people last year and is blamed for 1.5 million injuries.
Between 2005 and 2009 there was a 10 to 16% increase in fatalities associated with distracted driving, while overall fatalities fell to the lowest level since 1950.
Those under 20 are much more likely to drive distracted.
The take home message seems to be that cars in general are becoming safer, but some drivers are getting dumber. If dumber seems too strong, remember these people are traveling up to 70+ miles per hour and trusting to luck. It has to be luck, because for those seconds (as many as five or ten) they are not paying attention, no one is really driving
How far does a car travel at even 60mph in five seconds? The car travels 440 feet; more than a football field. Now add to that the time it takes to stop when they realize there is a problem… no wonder the statistics are up.
It isn’t just an expressway danger
Low speed and tragically stupid accidents are a consequence of distracted driving as well. Even at relatively low speeds. One car maybe stopped at a light or a stop sign, completely legal and seemingly safe… and another car just runs right into them. Another distracted driver on a cell phone; or doing their makeup; or even changing outfits – the ways we come up with to cause an accident are amazing.
Next time you are out in city traffic take a look at all the other drivers chatting away or eating lunch while they drive. Billings is a good place to look because Montana has no distracted driving laws on the books.
If you are a passenger in a distracted driver situation, offer to answer calls or switch places so the driver can chit-chat, eat, or do whatever it is that is putting both of your lives in danger. If you don’t act, you are agreeing to ride in a car where, in essence, no one is really driving at all. Good luck with that. More information here: