Driving is an essential part of our lives. While we are on the road, we have to stay focused and aware of what is happening around us to keep ourselves and our children safe. So what is distracted driving? Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving.
There are three main types of distractions while driving:
- Manual - Taking your hands off the steering wheel
- Visual - Taking your eyes away from the road
- Cognitive - Taking your mind off of the task of driving
All distractions endanger drivers, passengers and bystanders. These distractions include: eating and drinking, grooming, reading (including maps), watching videos, and most importantly talking on cell phones and texting. Of all these activities, texting is the most dangerous since it involves all three types of distractions.
The hard facts
Do you text while driving? It may seem harmless, but distracted drivers account for nearly four out of five crashes in the United States, and looking away for just two seconds doubles that danger. Two seconds does not sound like a substantial amount of time, does it? However, sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, therefore doubling the added danger. Still, nearly 50 percent of drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 continue to text behind the wheel.
- Turn it off. Before you get in the car, turn your cell phone off or switch to silent mode. You can wait, and so can others.
- Be prepared. Review maps and directions before you get on the road. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the maps/directions again.
- Secure pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you drive.
- Keep kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
- Stay focused on the task at hand. Refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, reading and any other activities that may take your eyes off the road.
- Don't text and drive. It's the law.
Kentucky's cellphone/texting law:
On April 12, 2010, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a bill into law which bans texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion.
- For drivers over the age of 18, the law allows the use of global positioning devices and reading, selecting or entering a telephone number or name for the purpose of making a phone call.
- For drivers under 18, no use of personal communication devices such as cell phones and pagers is allowed while the vehicle is in motion.
- Texting is allowed only to report illegal activity or to request medical or emergency aid.
- Violators are liable for fines of $25 on a first offense and $50 on each subsequent offense, plus court costs.
Additional resources online:
Centers for Disease Control - http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/
End Distracted Driving - http://enddd.org/
Kentucky Office of Highway Safety - Distracted Driving (PDF, 879 KB)
U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving - http://www.distraction.gov/