Distracted driving is an ongoing issue that continues to endanger thousands of drivers each year. Since April is distracted driving awareness month, we wanted to get some of the facts about this dangerous habit and help spread awareness.

So what is distracted driving exactly? Basically it is anything that takes a driver's eyes off the road, hands off of the wheel, or mind off of driving. It can be an action as simple as changing the radio or reaching for something in the seat next to you. The best example would be talking on the phone or texting while driving. Texting is in fact one of the worst distractions facing drivers. It takes your mind and eyes off the road as well as your hands off of the wheel.

Even if it seems like reading or sending a text is not a big deal, it takes your attention away from driving and increases the odds of an accident. Hands-free cell phone use isn't much safer, research has shown that even cognitive distractions hinder a driver's ability to pick up on audio and visual cues that could potentially prevent an accident.

You may think that distracted driving is not as dangerous as it is made out to be, but the statistics related to it have proven otherwise. Did you know that in 2010 over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the youngest and most inexperienced drivers are at risk, about 16% of distracted driving accidents involve drivers under the age of 20.

Did you also know that at any point during daylight hours, there are about 800,000 vehicles on the road being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone. That's a lot of distraction that not only endangers the driver, but everyone else on the road as well.

Why isn't distracted driving illegal in all states you may ask? It's because State law has jurisdiction over passenger car driving. More and more states are passing tougher laws when it comes to distracted driving. All drivers are banned from texting and junior operators are banned from any cell phone use whatsoever. Bus drivers are also banned from any cell phone use.

What are some tips for safe driving? The first step is being aware of what it is and the damage it can cause. Next, be sure to avoid any and all cell phone use while driving. If you listen to music in the car, choose a CD or and iPod playlist that doesn't have commercials so you don't have to change the channel or skip songs. You can also take the Pledge to drive phone-free today and encourage family and friends to do the same. Distracted driving is entirely preventable and the accidents it causes are avoidable. Protect yourself and others on the road by taking all precautions to avoid distractions on the road.

All information and statistics were obtained from the Official US Government Website for Distracted Driving.


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