Driving While Distracted

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Distracted Driving

The mission of the National Safety Council (NSC) is to save lives by preventing accidents through education and advocacy. One of the ways that NSC meets its goal is by celebrating National Safety Month every June. Each year, the NSC draws public attention to preventable accidents and how to stop them by calling on businesses and communities to encourage safe behaviors and spread safety messages.

For National Safety Month 2011, the NSC emphasized a different leading cause of preventable injury and death each week of the month, ending the month by focusing on the dangers of distracted driving. The NSC offered a variety of informational tools in an effort to reduce the number of traffic accidents – which remains the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., according to NSC statistics. The NSC provided posters and tip sheets about distracted driving for display and distribution. Additionally, the NSC website had tools for employers to help set safe driving policies for employees, resources for public education, a collection of the latest research about the dangers of distracted driving and links to state laws governing distracted driving.

Distracted Driving

Even though National Safety Month has passed, the danger that distracted drivers pose on the nation’s roads still demands attention. NSC statistics indicate that approximately 25 percent of all traffic crashes in 2008 – about 1.4 million – involved a driver who was talking or sending a text message on a cell phone. At any given time 11 percent of drivers are talking on a cell phone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey. NSC studies show that the risk of getting into a collision increases fourfold when a driver is on the phone, based on emergency room visits and property damage statistics. The NSC estimates that a traffic accident involving a driver on a cell phone once every 24 seconds in the U.S.

The NSC emphasizes that all forms of distraction while driving are dangerous – even things that do not require a driver to take his or her hands off the wheel such as using a hands-free headset with a cell phone – as the human brain is limited in how much information it can process at once. Multitasking while driving increases risk of crashes because it makes drivers less observant of traffic cues. Activities such as applying make-up, changing the radio station or programming a global positioning system device are as dangerous as talking on the phone while driving and the NSC tip sheet encourages drivers to “focus on the drive” and avoid other tasks while driving to minimize the risk of a car accident and injuries.

In the hurried pace of today’s society, many feel the pressure to get several things done at one time. The result is roads filled with people not paying attention to driving.

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