I've been thinking a lot about distracted driving lately, ever since the presentation I made to Boiling Springs 9th graders a couple months ago. I even posted a news article about the dangers of distracted driving for everyone on the road. Of all the causes of car and tractor trailer accidents I've handled, I've realized the biggest cause is driving while distracted.
These crashes – which can often have tragic consequences – are not caused by evil people or people who ought never be behind the wheel. They're caused by someone who just took their eyes off the road, or their mind off safety, or their hands off the wheel. Often what generates the tragedy of a car accident is a brief lapse of concentration. What we've got to realize is we are all in this together and everyone who turns on a car takes other people's lives in their hands. All it takes is just a few seconds of distraction, even for the most innocent purpose. One of the most sorrowful videos I saw on this topic was in the distracted driving program, where a young lady just checked her GPS to make sure she was going in the right direction, but when she took her eyes off the road to do it, she struck and killed a grandfather and father. You can watch the video here.
Think about this: for every 10 mph of speed, we travel about 15 ft per second. At 50 mph, that's 75 ft per second – at that speed and that distance, distracted driving creates an enormous possibility to cause extreme damage.
Distracted Driving Can Be As Dangerous As Drunk Driving
As for talking on a cell phone while driving, here's a sobering thought. Do you know what the difference is between the risk of a car crash while driving with a .08 alcohol concentration and for driving while talking on a cell phone? None. Zero. This is actually been confirmed on the Discovery show Mythbusters. And texting is simply a death wish. The average text takes our hands and minds off safety for about 4 seconds. At 50 mph, that's the length of a football field where we are paying absolutely no attention to the safety of others.
Safety is everyone's responsibility on the road. We've got to be responsible for each other, for our children, and anyone else on the road. Sometimes even the innocent or good endangers them – like checking GPS or making a quick phone call. If these things are so important, we can find a safe place to pull off. That way, it may take a little longer but we remain in control of our safety and the others who lives we take in our hands. Safety is just not something we can leave to luck or chance – I've seen the tragic consequences of that thinking way too many times and I hope to be part of the solution. I hope you will too.