Do you know that any activity you do other than driving while driving is called distracted driving? This includes texting, eating, drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, messing with the entertainment or navigation system, talking on the phone, or any other activity which takes your full attention away from driving.
Of all the distractions, texting is the most dangerous. When you read or send a text, your eyes are off the road for 5 seconds, at least. At 55 mph, you will be crossing the distance of an entire football field with your eyes closed. With other traffic on the road and other obstructions like trees, houses, and concrete traffic barriers, do you think you would avoid an accident? It’s an important question to ask.
Check out the stats: In 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes, although all ages were represented.
What’s being done about distracted driving?
Various state agencies in Arkansas and across the United States are engaged in implementing harsher penalties for distracted driving. They are also heavily involved in educating the public about its dangers.
The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) is very involved with numerous programs to help educate the public and help states and local police to enforce existing laws.
The public can also play an important part in teaching the public about the dangers of distracted driving.
Teens: Responsible teenage drivers can make an impact on their peers. Encourage them to speak up when they are in a car where the driver is driving distractedly. Have them begin a campaign to sign a pledge to never drive distracted, or to come up with their own ideas on how to help prevent what has become rampant driving behavior. Tell them to share messages on social media reminding their friends and family not to drive distracted.
Parents: Above all, set a good example and talk to your children about the dangers of distracted driving. Have all family drivers sign a pledge to drive safely and without distractions.
Educators and Employers: You too can play a part. Spread the word about distracted driving and its dangers. Have your students and employees sign a pledge not to drive distracted.
New Arkansas texting and driving law
In the recently-concluded session of the Arkansas Legislature, a new law was passed to increase the penalties when found guilty of texting and driving. It was signed into law on March 29, 2017.
The law, which also clarifies what constitutes impermissible use of a wireless device, makes a first offense punishable by a fine of up to $250, where a first offense currently brings only a warning. Subsequent violations will cost up to $500 and the fine can be doubled if an accident occurs.
Remember, you cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing and injuring or killing yourself or others.
Pay attention and please be safe out there.
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Attribution: National Safety Council (http://creativecommons.org/licenses)