Just say no to distracted driving

Texting while driving has received a lot of attention, but it’s not the only form of distracted driving. There are many other ways a driver can become distracted — and they can be just as dangerous.

Distracted driving is driving while doing any other activity that takes your attention away from driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines three types: visual, which takes your eyes off the road; manual, which takes your hands off the wheel; and cognitive, which takes your mind off driving.

Examples of distracted driving include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a cell phone or to a passenger
  • Eating or drinking
  • Grooming, including applying makeup
  • Reading, including directions or a map
  • Adjusting the music on a mobile phone, changing radio stations or using a computer navigation system

Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it includes all three types of distraction: visual, manual and cognitive. It’s also illegal.

In Tennessee, Bill PC0412 makes it illegal for a driver to:

  • (a) hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body
  • (b) write, send, or read any text-based communication
  • (c) reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt
  • (d) watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device
  • (e) record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device.

Georgia has a similar law.

Try out these tips to limit distraction while driving:

  1. Turn your phone off or in silent mode and put it out of reach.
  2. Pull over if you need to make a call or send a message.
  3. Have a passenger make a call for you if needed.
  4. Review directions before traveling, so you’re familiar and prepared.
  5. Don’t multitask.
  6. If pets are traveling with you, secure them before you begin your drive.
  7. If you need to handle a situation with your kids, pull over.

Need another reason to say no to distracted driving? Take a look at the numbers.

Distracted driving by the numbers

  • Each day in the United States, more than 8 people are killed and 1,161 are in injured because of distracted driving.
  • In 2013, 3,179 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.
  • In 2014, 431,000 people were injured in crashes involved a distracted driver.
  • In 2013, nearly one in five crashes involved a distracted driver.
  • Approximately 10 percent of all drivers ages 15 to 19 involved in a fatal accident were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
  • At any moment in the United States, approximately 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone or other device while driving.
  • One-third of drivers admit to texting while driving. Three-quarters says they’ve seen others text while driving.

When you text, your eyes are off the road for approximately five seconds. If you’re traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s long enough to cover 360 feet — the length of a football field.

Source of statistics: Distraction.gov

Feel as if a health concern is distracting you on the road? Talk with your doctor. Need a doctor? Find one here.