April is a time of renewal: flowers have begun to bloom, the snow has turned to puddles, and the grass is getting greener with each passing day. Unfortunately, the warmer weather is often a prelude to lax concentration on the roads that builds all the way through summer—especially since more and more car accidents are caused by distracted driving.
Top 6 Distracted Driving Myths
Distracted driving can cause a wide range of risky behavior on the roads, including weaving in and out of lanes, speeding, tailgating, and even running red lights. While many drivers know that distractions increase the likelihood of an accident, many are mistaken about the distractions themselves. For instance, many people mistakenly believe that:
- Distracted driving only involves cell phones. Distraction can occur any time a driver’s hands, eyes, or concentration are diverted from driving safely. Cellphones may increase the risk of distraction, but non-driving activities—such as eating, drinking, applying makeup, rubbernecking at accident scenes, speaking with passengers etc. all increase the risk of an accident.
- Distracted driving is only a problem for young drivers. While younger and inexperienced drivers are certainly at risk, only 16% of all distracted-driving crashes involve drivers under 20 years old. Older drivers who are preoccupied with children and passengers are now increasingly likely to be distracted by electronics as well.
- It’s not illegal to text and drive in Missouri. There is a statewide primary law prohibiting texting for all drivers aged 21 and under, meaning younger drivers can be pulled over for texting even if they have not broken any other traffic laws.
- Answering a text only takes a second. Many drivers underestimate the time it takes to read and respond to a text message. One text response requires that a driver’s eyes, hands, and concentration leave the road for an average of 5 seconds—long enough for a car traveling at 55mph to travel the length of an entire football field.
- If my car’s GPS were a distraction, it wouldn’t be in the car. Plenty of accidents have been caused by drivers who were adjusting the car’s in-vehicle GPS system, as the technology often requires the use of a driver’s eyes and hands. Even when a driver is able to correct his actions in time to avoid an accident, the person following behind may not be so lucky.
- I use a hands-free device, so I’m not at risk. Your hands may be on the wheel and your eyes on the road, but studies have shown that carrying on a phone conversation still creates a cognitive distraction that can cause drivers to ignore visual and audio cues (such as road signs) that can help prevent a crash.
How Can I Help Prevent Distracted Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has designated April National Distracted Driving Month, and encourages everyone to take a moment to ensure that as many drivers as possible make it through another year. Take the pledge to put down your cellphone while driving, and share this article with your friends and family on Facebook to inspire others to do the same.