You can do it all. Sitting at a red light, you send a quick email to your co-worker letting her know you'll grab the donuts for the meeting. At the next red light, you start a text to your significant other to remind him/her you'll be late tonight.
The driver behind you lays on his horn to alert you to the light change. You surge forward and finish the message but in doing so you don't see that the car in front of you has suddenly stopped. Can you react fast enough to avoid an accident? Maybe, maybe not.
You're not alone, more than two in five drivers admit they've read texts while driving and one in three have responded to texts they've received. Many drivers take advantage of the popular hands-free calling options that have become widely available in modern cars but even with both hands on the wheel, a driver's attention is still split between the phone call and the road.
Technological advancements have made life easier in many ways, but distracted driving claims thousands of lives each year because drivers are more involved with their technology than their surroundings.
With this in mind, The National Safety Council has named April as Distracted Driver Awareness in an effort to make drivers aware of the dangers and consequences of distracted driving. Individuals - drivers and non-drivers - can sign up to become advocates here and receive promotional materials including posters, statistics, and fact sheets to aid in the campaign.
Texting and talking aren't the only distractions
One of the most important points to be made is that while cell phones are generally regarded as the number one source of distracted driving, there are other activities that regularly detract driver attention.
Have you ever seen somebody applying makeup via the visor mirror?
- What about somebody messing with their radio stations?
- Reach down to grab something they've dropped?
- Eat a snack or drink a beverage?
- Turn around to scold the kids in the backseat?
- Allow a cute little puppy to roam free, and even sit on the drivers lap?
Anything can be a distraction if it causes you to lose focus, even for a split second.
Still, people are texting and talking, eating and applying makeup without regard for the consequences. You can't control what other people do but you can pay attention to your own actions and avoid distracted driving. Maybe your own awareness can help you prevent an accident by reacting faster and avoiding others who may be driving distracted.
Is there ever a good time to grab the phone?
Technology isn't all bad though, in the event of an accident, your cell phone can help you through. With features like notepads and voice memos, cell phones can help you secure, store, and easily transmit the pertinent information to your insurance agent and your attorney. Take pictures, obtain information from any relevant parties (don't forget the witnesses!), and make your own notes while things are fresh in your mind.