Saying no to distracted driving

What did people do before cell and smart phones, those little things so many of us think we just can’t live without? When we are driving we need to curb the distractions and focus on what we are doing because the human brain was never really intended to multitask. Is there a telephone call or text message that is really worth a human life?

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The idea is that you – and everyone else using the highways – arrive at destinations all in one piece, safe and smiling. Defensive driving is vital in these days when the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that 64 percent of drivers believe speeding is OK; 47 percent are ok with texting manually or with voice command while driving; 13 percent think it’s OK to be impaired by marijuana and 10 percent of drivers impaired by alcohol think it’s OK to imbibe and drive. (Scary thought, isn’t it?)

The NSC also advises that every eight seconds someone is injured in a car crash in the U.S. More than 100 people die daily, about 40,000 people, died in car crashes in 2016. They say that 2016 saw “the most dramatic increase in 53 years.” Bicycle, pedestrian and motorcycle deaths are also happening more frequently.

The causes:

Speeding

Alcohol

Distracted driving

These causes are 100 percent preventable, says the NSC, when drivers are alert and focused on the task of driving. First, slow down. The highway is not a race track. Secondly, when you drink have a sober driver take you home. Third, use a seatbelt whether you are sitting in the front or back of the vehicle and make sure children are secured with car seats and seat belts appropriate to their ages and weights.

Before you start your trip, put your phone away – in the glovebox, the trunk of the vehicle, your purse, and don’t answer calls or wrestle to retrieve the phone as you’re driving. If it’s that important, find a safe place to pull over and park the vehicle first. Voice commands and other systems in your vehicle also are distractions. Many have been the crashes when someone reached over to turn up the volume or change the station on their car radio and collided with the vehicle ahead of them.

The U.S. Department of Transportation asks the question, would you drive the length of a football field with your eyes closed at 55 mph? When you take your eyes away from the road to fiddle with something in your car or to type a short text message, that’s exactly what you are doing. (Another scary thought, isn’t it?) You aren’t risking just your safety. You are endangering others. Nobody wants to spend the rest of their life knowing they caused someone else’s death for a text message. And nobody wants the last message from someone they care about to be the last text message they ever receive from the person who texted and drove.

Don’t text and drive.

Don’t apply makeup and drive.

Don’t eat and drive.

Drive defensively, alert and focused.

What did people do before cell and smart phones? If they missed a phone call and it was important, the caller would try again later. Those little boxes we carry around in our pockets and purses give us the benefit of Caller ID so we can call back when we get to a stopping place. Be safe out there.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

COMMENTS