Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month which reminds motorist that anything that takes your attention away from driving is a distraction and can lead to a traffic collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 10% of fatal crashes, 15% of injury crashes, and 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015 had a driver who was distracted at the time of the crash.
There are three kinds of distractions and they include anything that takes your:
- Eyes off the road (visual).
- Mind off the driving (cognitive).
- Hands off the steering wheel (manual).
Activities like interacting with cell phones, passengers, and radio controls, as well as, grooming, eating and smoking can impair your driving abilities. Driving safely involves being alert and aware of what is happening in your driving environment. So next time you’re in the driver’s seat, keep your mind on driving and getting to your destination safely.
No time to read a long-winded BLOnG? Welcome to the Three-Second-Stop mini-Blog.
Today’s Three Seconds: California AB 1785 Effective Jan. 1, 2017
Beginning today, the rules as to how drivers can use a smartphone and other handheld devices just got a whole lot stricter. Besides not being able to write or read texts by hand, it is now illegal to “hold and operate” a handheld wireless telephone or electronic communications device for any reason while driving. Bottom line: If a driver in CA still wants to use a phone while driving, they can’t be holding it in-hand. Now the device must be mounted or affixed to the vehicle’s windshield, dashboard or center console without obstructing the view of the road, and the driver may only use a single swipe or tap of the finger to operate a function or feature on the device.
Note: This new law does not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in a vehicle.
Learn more at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/.
April 11-15, 2016: Respect the Orange
The week of April 11-15, 2016, the Federal Highway Administration encourages, “Don’t Be THAT Driver!” This year’s National Work Zone Awareness theme focuses on a current road safety topic: distracted driving. Construction zones are dangerous enough without mixing in the added hazard of driving distractions. With so much confusion going on in a work zone, taking your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and/or mind off of driving, even for a second, can lead to an unfortunate crash. Besides being aware of in-vehicle distractions also avoid the temptation to try and see what the road workers are doing. Remember to slow down to a safe speed, drive more cautiously and focus on the task at hand.
A new study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile III: A Comparison of Ten 2015 In-Vehicle Information Systems (October 2015), examined the effect of several different In-Vehicle Information Systems on mental performance while driving. Participants of the study were asked to complete voice initiated tasks such as dialing a phone number, placing a call to a contact or making a song selection.
One finding to note, it took up to 27 seconds for the driver to return their full attention back to driving after completing a task. The driver’s hands were on the wheel and eyes were on the road, but for 27 seconds their mind was not on driving. Driving needs your complete attention and involves continuous and complex coordination between your mind and body.
The study also revealed that practice does not may perfect. Participants kept a vehicle for five days to familiarize themselves with the technology. Even after a week of practice, activities required about the same amount of mental concentration as when it was first attempted.
No matter what potential distractions await you while on the road, it is up to you, the driver, to always focus on your driving.
Driver impairment is not only caused by drugs and alcohol. Our driving is impaired anytime our ability to operate a vehicle is compromised. Because emotions can govern our behavior to a large extent, they too can diminish our driving capabilities. Emotional impairment can affect our ability to recognize risks and quickly react.
Here are some helpful tips to help regulate our emotions while driving.
- Do not take the aggressive actions of other drivers personally.
- Cool off when angry or frustrated.
- Don’t drive when feeling upset, frustrated, depressed or angry.
- Don’t have emotional conversations while driving.
- Stay focused on the driving task.
- Turn a negative driving situation into a positive situation.
- Demonstrate the kind of courtesy you would like to receive from others.
Safe driving requires our focus at all times. When behind the wheel, try to ‘shelve’ problems temporarily. Instead, concentrate on the driving tasks at hand. If unable to do that, then it is best to wait to drive until our emotions are under control.
Courtesy is Key
You know that Golden Rule, “Treat others how you would like to be treated?” Well, that applies to driving too. Be a courteous driver just as you would like other drivers to be courteous to you. When you lead by example with your patience and mindfulness, you can actually reduce your OWN frustration behind the wheel, as well as other drivers’ frustration. Follow TrafficSchool.com’s tips to maintain the level of courtesy necessary to drive safely and not upset other drivers:
- STAY OFF YOUR PHONE! Unless it is an emergency.
- If you prefer to drive at a slower pace, move into the right lane. If it’s a single lane road, look for a turnout where you can pull over so faster moving vehicles can pass you.
- When traveling with kids, make sure you have plenty of items or toys to keep them occupied so you can focus on driving.
- Don’t weave in and out of traffic lanes, and when you are changing lanes, always use your turn signal.
- Avoid following other drivers too closely or “tailgating.”
Simple, right? You don’t want to be part of a chain reaction of bad driving because you’re taking your frustration out on the road and on other drivers.
Be the start of a courteous chain reaction instead; the Golden Rule is called “Golden” for a reason! Go for gold!
Eat it … But Not While You’re Driving
You’ve heard a thousand times the dangers of talking on your cell phone while driving, or the perils associated with texting and driving. But we bet a lot of you are guilty of another dangerous distraction: EATING while driving. And we’re sure you know not to “drink and drive,” but that’s true for ANY kind of beverage, not just alcohol. Soft drinks are on the top ten list of most dangerous things to consume while trying to drive. Seriously!
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed some pretty startling statistics for such a common activity among American drivers. According to NHTSA’s study in 2009, eating while driving increases the odds of an accident by 80% and accounts for 65% of near miss accidents. Yikes!
Some of the top offenders for increasing the risk of an accident include hamburgers, doughnuts with cream or jelly filling, fried chicken, tacos and — ranked number one — coffee. The truth is, anything that is going to take your attention away from the road is considered distracted driving. You’re already averting your eyes from the road in the food-to-mouth process, and then, just imagine … You bite into that juicy burger and suddenly you’ve got mustard dripping down your crisp white shirt. Or a big glop of jelly you weren’t able to stop oozing out of your savory treat in time. Fried chicken is super greasy, and tacos pretty much disassemble themselves! Coffee is an obvious one – hot liquid spillage is always a catastrophe, and the fact that coffee “to go” is often served in flimsy cups only makes matters worse, contributing to this beverage being labeled the most dangerous item to consume while driving.
In today’s busy world, we’re always looking for ways to save time and it’s easy to fall into the trap of grabbing a bite to eat on the run. But please – if you must grab food on the run, pull into a parking lot or wait until you reach your destination to enjoy.
For as long as I can remember, there’s news almost daily about the tragic death(s) caused by an impaired driver. While the rate of fatal deaths due to DUI has actually been decreasing sharply over the last two decades, today’s drivers have seemingly chosen a new deadly form of DUI: Driving While Intexticated.
Ironic in their nomenclature, smart phones are increasingly making drivers incredibly stupid. For the first time in history, drivers everywhere are making the conscious choice to drive several seconds at a time with their head down. This is no LOL matter.
- Compared to a 12% decrease of reaction time for buzzed drivers driving at the legal blood-alcohol limit, the reaction time of drivers texting while driving decreases by a whopping 35%. Intexticated drivers are almost 3 times slower to react that intoxicated drivers.
- About 80% of drivers use their cell phones when on the road, and 60% of novice drivers between the ages of 18-24 own up to pounding away on an iPhone or Android keyboard while behind the wheel.
The Future of Crash Text Dummies
So how will state governments wage war on drivers driving under the influence of text? No one is sure, but looking to the past may give us an idea. Decades ago, drunk driving was much more rampant per capita. In order to get the rate of drunk drivers under better control, concerned agencies used a two prong attack:
- Influence the public to perceive driving under the influence with harsher eyes (through PSA’s and in-school educational programs)
- Increase the punishment for those getting a DUI (steeper fines, revoking licenses, and longer jail time)
A similar strategy might have to be employed to thwart the increasing problems texting and driving is causing. The public perception campaign is already under way. Just search ‘Texting and Driving’ on Youtube and you’ll see what I mean. Though punishment has increased for those who choose to drive phone-in-hand, the common discipline is a slap on the wrist or an inexpensive citation. Will it take stiffer punishment to get drivers to leave the phone alone? Consider a common strategy used by high school teachers dealing with cell phones in the classroom – “Use it and Lose it”. Though an officer confiscating a phone because he saw you texting may seem overboard, I guarantee we’d see a lot more hands on 10 and 2 instead of on the QWERTY.