As much as we try to remain disciplined, it is so hard not to use our smart and cell phones while driving. We want to see what our children have texted us, or answer a business call that will not have to be dealt with once we arrive at our destination. But these activities, while operating a car is, in a word, risky, if not deadly. Our cars have the potential to injure and kill as we attempt to navigate thousands of pounds of metal and material at high rates of speed. We’ve all observed women putting on makeup and men combing their hair as they weave in and out of traffic. Add to such behavior the talking on the phone or looking away from the road as we press letters in trying to send a text message leads to one inescapable conclusion that with all of the advances the car industry has made in reducing injuries and deaths through air bags and collapsing metal, our self-distractions has increased the risk of auto accidents.
The month of April is End Distracted Driving Month. Did you know that 80% of all vehicular collisions and 65% of near-crashes are causedby some form of driver inattention? Perhaps the most grave statistic is that 18% of all auto accident-related fatalities is attributable to cell phone use. In Pennsylvania, a law recently passed banning texting while driving. Many other states have passed similar laws, including the banning of hand held cell phone use. Whether using a smart phone, eating a sandwich, or inputting an address on your car’s GPS, any activity that takes our attention away from the road and other drivers will increase our chances of being involved in an accident. Think about it, a moment’s distraction to do something that easily could have waited can alter your life and the lives of others forever. Sure, we rationalize: “Hey, I’m a safe driver and I know when I can punch in a phone number or take a quick look at that text message or email safely.” But, that moment’s inattention may just come at the wrong time – the car in front of you unexpectedly brakes; the pedestrian who you thought was stopping continuesto walk; and the few inches you drift while distracted has you driving towards another car coming from the opposite direction.
The bottom line is simple and clear: it isn’t worth it. Those of us who are parents are always trying to teach our children to act responsibly by our acting responsibly. Our wanting to protect our children is a strong force causing us to be vigilant and insightful. Yet, when we drive and use our smart phones while driving our children and their friends, we are unnecessarily and irresponsibly putting everyone in the car at undue risk. As we tell our children, let’s make smart and good choices while driving. Pay attention to the road and fellow drivers while reducing our need to multi-task with what are nothing more than life-threatening distractions.