At one point in time a vehicle was a means to take us from point ‘a’ to point ‘b.’ Nowadays we not only travel in our vehicles, we eat meals in them, conduct business in them, read in them, watch TV in them, listen to cds and, of course, talk on the phone. Cars are being equipped with more and more gadgets to seemingly make our life easier. In the midst of this progress, we neglect to realize that easier isn’t always better, or, as in the case of driving while distracted, safer. While perfecting the ‘skill’ of multi-tasking we sometimes forget that our vehicle is potentially a lethal weapon.
As with many common tasks for most of us driving a car is second nature. Because of this most people feel that it is safe to perform various tasks while driving. Accident statistics tell us otherwise. We know from research that just thinking about things other than the road ahead has the same effect as removing your eyes from the road. When you actually take your eyes off the road to perform a task, the distance you travel is longer than you would think, especially when traveling at a high speed. It is usually far enough to hit someone or something that is suddenly placed in front of you. When you look away from the road you are merely speculating that nothing in your path will change until you resume the task of driving. When you do this you are gambling with your life and the lives of others.
The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety estimates that, nationwide, somewhere between 4,000 to 8,000 crashes daily happen as the result of distracted drivers. A National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) survey revealed that 60% of cell phone usage takes place behind the wheel.
While we may understand the risks we also know that our lives do not suddenly slow down because we want them to. So what do we do? Take steps to make our traveling safer and also take a minute to realize that the time to accomplish 10 different tasks isn’t when we are behind the wheel.
Some steps toward a safer commute include:
- Use a hands free device when making calls and dial the number when the vehicle is stationary.
- Do not answer phone calls during hazardous driving situations.
- Be familiar with the controls on your car’s stereo system so that you can make adjustments with considerable ease.
- Pull over to conduct business or finish challenging discussions.
- Never attempt to look for lost items or retrieve an item off the floor while driving.
- Be familiar with and adjust vehicle controls before starting out on a trip.
- Avoid eating, drinking and smoking while driving.
The life you save may not only be your own. Saving time is not nearly as important as staying alive.