Just the other day I was driving home from work in traffic when I see a women in an SUV on her cellphone clearly not paying attention to what was going on around her; seemed like she was having a serious conversion based off the expressions she was making.
The red light we were sitting next to each other at turned green on a road with two turning lanes going in the same direction and within an instant, I see my life flash in front of me.
The careless driver swerved into my lane and would have hit my car if I hadn't been able to quickly move into the shoulder lane. Despite talking on the phone while driving being dangerous, it's illegal in some states such as mine.
According to the United States Government Website for Distracted Driving, in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. The site adds, 10 percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. It's not just talking on the phone or texting that's distracting drivers, eating, drinking, smoking, and adjusting controls such as the radio or temperature also leads to auto accidents.
Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting, writes attorney Tyler Smith in a blog post. In just five seconds, your life and the life of someone else could change forever. Help avoid being part of the distracted driving statistics by following these tips.
1. Keep your phone far, far away.
Out of sight, out of reach. Put your phone in a spot you won't be able to reach while driving. If you can't see your phone, it'll be harder to resist the temptation of hopping on it while you drive.
2. Opt for a hands free device.
If you must be on the phone while driving such as for the purpose of listening to music on your device or following directions via a navigator, use a hand free tool. There are aux cords in the market that work well; for just a few dollars, you can contribute to road safety.
3. Eat before, after, or just pull over.
It can be tempting to indulge in a meal or snack while driving (especially if you are trying to get a meal in before work). Rather than eating while driving, just wake up a little earlier or wait until you get home. If you are taking a long trip and are planning on eating while driving to save time, it's not worth it. Pull over for a few minutes then get back on the road when you're finished eating. It's simple enough.
4. Only get behind the wheel when you are mentally prepared.
In an article on distracted driving being even more dangerous than we thought, Huffington Post Senior Writer Carolyn Gregoire cited fatigue as one of the distractions that were found to greatly increase crash risk. If you are not mentally prepared in any way shape or form, stay off the road.
5. Don't be afraid to tell passengers to 'hush.'
If you're driving with a friend in the car listening to them rattle off a story, is your full attention really on the road? Don't be afraid to tell passengers that while you'd like to have a conversion with them during your time spent together in the car, you need a little quiet to focus on the road.
6. Always give yourself extra time to get where you need to go.
If you tend to be one of those people who gets a heavy foot when running late, plan accordingly. Give yourself more time than you think you will need to get from point A to point B without rushing.
For even more insight on this topic, follow Huffington Post Road Safety.