|Don’t worry – I was parked!|
I’ll admit to a terrible secret about myself. I have – though on very few occasions – texted while driving. On more frequent occasions, I have read a text or email while driving, but decided that replying could wait until I parked my car.
Look at these statistics, taken from http://www.distraction.gov/:
•20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA).
•Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashed, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). (NHTSA)
•In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. (FARS and GES)
•The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (NHTSA)
•Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
•Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)
How much more do I need to know to “get smart” and quit feeling invincible?
In the last few days, I’ve learned my lesson. On TWO separate incidences, while driving on a two-lane road, an oncoming car crossed over into my lane. I had to honk my horn long and hard to get the driver’s attention to move back in to his lane. On the first occasion, if he hadn’t returned to his lane, I would have been forced down into a rather steep embankment.
I feel sure the first driver was distracted by his cell phone, though due to windshield glare, I can’t be sure about the other driver. But, that’s not really the point. All I could think about was that if I had been distracted in any way by my cell phone, whether talking, reading an email or most certainly, texting, I wouldn’t have been able to react quickly enough, and I’m sure there would have been a head-on collision.
If you ever have the chance to stand on a street corner and watch cars go by, you’d be amazed at the percentage of drivers who are doing SOMETHING with their cell phones.
So, even if you think you can drive and manipulate a cell phone at the same time (you can’t), and even if you think you are somehow protected from one day falling into the above statistics, maybe it will help you to know that with all the other “make-believe-invincibles” driving around with cell phones, you need every bit of your attention to LOOK OUT FOR THEM!!
This post is for everybody. But if I can’t get everybody to listen, at least I hope I’ve gotten my message across to my loved ones and friends.
Thanks for posting this, Jan. I do hope a lot of people read–and more importantly–respond to this message. We can't control what others do, so we definitely need to be on guard everytime we're on the road (even dirt roads).