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Distracted driving endangers you, too

April 24, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center , Salem News


Family Recovery Center

What happens to you when you are trying to follow two or more conversations at one time? Can you study, listen to the TV or radio and retain what you are reading? What causes you not to be able to focus on your tasks-distracts you? Now, if those distractions interfere with your focus at home or on the job, do you believe cell phone use is as great a distraction-and a dangerous one-when you are driving?

The U.S. Department of Transportation describes three types of distracted driving:

Visual: taking your eyes off the road.

Manual: taking your hands off the wheel.

Cognitive: taking your mind off what you are doing.

Chris was stopped at a traffic light. She looked at the rearview mirror and saw a car coming up behind her. It wasn't slowing down. The driver was looking at the radio and reaching to adjust something. She tensed up and prepared for the impact of the two cars coming together.

"While all distractions can endanger drivers' safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction. (

In 2009, 20 percent of injury crashes involved distracted driving, and 5,474 people were killed, 448,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted driving. Drivers who use handheld cells are four times more likely to be in a crash serious enough to injure themselves. And take a look at this fact: Using a cell phone-hand-held or hands- free-delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08.

More statistics advise that nearly a quarter of all crashes (1.2 million yearly) are attributed to drivers using cell phones and texting while driving, and 12 times as many motor vehicle crashes involve cell phones rather than texting, according to data of the National Safety Council.

FocusDriven promotes National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. This awareness urges drivers to silence, shut off their cell phones or put them out of reach in the car's glove compartment or trunk. The voice mail greeting should advise you may be driving. Safe driving requires both hands on the wheel, eyes on the road.

"Each life impacted by cell phone driving tragedies creates a 'ripple effect' through families, friends and communities, the advocates of cell-free driving say. But it only happens to other people, right? Never to us. Never to "me."

Joe, age 12, died when a woman using a cell phone ran a redlight passing four cars and a school bus, all stopped at the redlight, and hit the car Joe's mother was driving. Ripple effects: Joe was an only child. He was skilled with computers and video games. He was active in his church's youth group. What kind of man might he have grown up to be?

A seventh grade English teacher and her husband attended their daughter's college graduation. On the way home, the driver of another car was talking on his cell phone and drove into the path of a tractor-trailer, which driver tried to avoid a collision and crashed into the teacher's car. Both of parents were killed. Their daughter was given a 10 percent chance of survival. What ifthe crash hadn't happened?

A firefighter, member of the U.S. Army Reserves, volunteer and safety activist was riding his motorcycle. A young driver, using her cell phone, collided with the motorcycle. The helmet and other protective gear he wore were not enough to safe his life. He left behind three children and six grandchildren.

Please, don't use your cell phone while you are driving. It takes only a moment for a crash to happen, to irrevocably change lives, someone else'sand your own.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well-being of individuals, families and communities. For more information about our education, prevention and treatment programs, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC is funded, in part, by the United Way of Northern Columbiana County and the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services.



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