April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the National Safety Council is urging families to take a pledge to avoid distracted driving. What constitutes distracted driving? There are three main areas of distraction: Visual: taking your eyes off the road; Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.
Most people know that texting and driving is completely unsafe and is against the law in many states, but what some people don't realize is that anything that takes your attention away from operating your vehicle is a distraction. Simply changing the radio station or plugging information into your navigational system requires taking both your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Driving while extremely fatigued or while impaired by drugs or alcohol is a cognitive distraction as well as a physical impairment and can result in an accident.
Talking on the phone, even if it is hands free, takes your mind off of driving and can be distracting. A recent poll by the National Safety Council revealed that "80% of respondents said they believe hands-free devices are safer than handheld, and 53% said they believe voice control features are safe because they are provided in vehicles. Research indicates drivers using handheld and hands-free phones only see about 50% of all the information in their driving environment. This phenomenon is called "inattention blindness" and can lead to drivers missing items such as stop signs and pedestrians."
The National Safety council's message is that accidents that are caused by distracted drivers are 100% preventable. "The price we are paying for mobility is 40,000 lives each year," said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. "This is a stark reminder that our complacency is killing us. The only acceptable number is zero; we need to mobilize a full court press to improve roadway safety."
Attentive driving truly can save lives. To take the pledge to be an attentive driver, click here.