Distracted Driving: The New Drunk Driving
April is National Distracted Driving Month. Though traffic dropped significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, our roads actually got more dangerous, and remain more dangerous, while traffic has increased back to pre-pandemic levels. More than 700 people are still injured in distracted driving crashes every day. In 2019, over 3,100 people were killed in distracted driving accidents, a 10% increase over 2018. Taking your eyes off the road for even two seconds doubles your risk of a crash. Plus, distracted driving tickets can raise your insurance cost by up to 45%.
What constitutes distracted driving, and what can you do to prevent a distracted driving tragedy?
Cell Phone Usage (calling, texting, emailing, including hands-free options): Research studies conclude that hands-free cell phone usage is not significantly safer than handheld. If you need to send or read a text or email, pull over and park your car in a safe location first, or ask a passenger to read and/or respond for you. If it's too tempting to have your cell phone within reach while you're driving, put it in the trunk, glove compartment, or back seat until you get to your destination, or put your phone on Do Not Disturb (or turn it off altogether).
In-Vehicle Technology/”Infotainment" Systems: Many newer vehicles have complex technology that uses touch screens or voice commands. These can both visually and mentally distract your attention away from the road. Be sure to adjust your seats, mirrors, climate control, and sound system prior to putting your car in drive.
Navigation Systems: Don't try to adjust your navigation system while driving. Decide your route, program your GPS, and check traffic before you get on the road.
Eating/Drinking: Eating or drinking while driving, especially messy foods, can be difficult to manage. It's best to eat before or after your trip, or pull over in a safe area to take a snack break.
Grooming: Never try to groom while driving! Comb your hair, shave, and/or apply makeup prior to getting in the car.
Loose Items: Reaching for loose possessions while driving can be extremely dangerous. Make sure to properly secure anything that could move around inside the car. This includes children and pets. If they need attention, pull over safely before you care for them. Don't try to reach into the backseat while driving.
If you're a passenger, and your driver is texting or otherwise distracted, tell them to stop and focus on the road. Offer to read or respond to calls, texts, and/or emails.
If you've been injured by a distracted driver or charged with a distracted driving crime, contact me at (860) 812-1743 or email@example.com. For 20 years I've been assisting people injured in all types of accidents and representing clients charged with all types of motor vehicle offenses, including distracted driving, throughout the State of Connecticut.