More than 90 percent of today's drivers agree that texting or emailing while driving is unacceptable, and 87 percent support laws against reading, typing or sending text messages or emails while driving, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index. Still, more than one-third of drivers reported texting or emailing while driving in the previous month.
Distracted driving contributes to up to 8,000 automobile crashes every day. More than 90 percent of today's drivers agree that texting or emailing while driving is unacceptable, and 87 percent support laws against reading, typing or sending text messages or emails while driving, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index. Still, more than one-third of drivers reported texting or emailing while driving in the previous month. Multitasking is a fact of life. We all face constant demands for our time, and we all have to juggle more these days than ever before. Unfortunately, many people try to multitask while driving, which is never a good idea. A 2011 study by the University of Utah has provided further evidence that our brains simply are not wired to multitask. Being distracted behind the wheel for even just a few seconds greatly increases the risk of being involved in a crash. The AAA Foundation provides 10 quick and easy ways to minimize distractions to stay safe on the roads: Plan ahead: Read maps and check traffic conditions before getting on the road. Stow electronics devices: Turn off your phone before you drive so you won't be tempted to use it while on the road. Pull over to a safe place to talk on the phone or to send and receive text messages or emails. Prepare children and pets for the trip: Get the kids safely buckled in and situated with snacks and entertainment before you start driving. If they need additional attention during the trip, pull off the road safely to care for them. Similarly, prepare and secure pets appropriately in your vehicle before getting under way. Satisfy cravings off the road: Eat meals and snacks before getting behind the wheel, or stop to eat and take a break if driving long distances. Store loose gear and possessions: Stash away loose objects that could roll around and take your attention away from driving. Get your vehicle road ready: Adjust seat positions, climate controls, sound systems and other devices before you leave or while your vehicle is stopped.Make sure your headlights are spotless so you can see everything on the road and every other driver can see you better. Keep your windshield clean and remove dangling objects that could block your view. Dress for success before you get into the car: Your car isn't a dressing room. Brush your hair, shave, put on makeup and tie your necktie before you leave or after you reach your destination. Get your brain into the game: Focus on the task at hand - driving safely. Scan the road, use mirrors and practice identifying orally what you have seen to enhance your engagement as a driver. Keeping your head "in the game" while behind the wheel will help you improve your overall awareness and behavior as a driver. AAA offers classroom and online defensive-driving courses that directly address distracted driving and that offer tips for avoiding such behaviors. Evaluate your own behavior from the "other" side of the road: When you're on the road as a passenger or a pedestrian, look around and honestly evaluate whether you engage in poor driving behaviors that worry you when observed in other passengers or pedestrians. Use new technology to make your drive better: Sharpen your ability to respond quickly to risks on the road. The AAA Foundation recommends that all drivers improve their reaction times and manage attention on the road by using DriveSharp, a computer program shown to improve reaction time and stopping distances. With quicker responses, you can avoid the distracted driver who might end up in your lane. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, it's time that we all stop ignoring the facts and take action to change our roads. The first step is to change our own attitudes and, more importantly, driving our own behaviors. Distracted driving is the cause of thousands of preventable injuries each year and has cost many families the life of a loved one. You can start solving the problem by pledging to change your own behavior and drive distraction-free from now on and then sharing this pledge with friends and family.
Distracted-driving material was provided by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. More information is available online at www.aaafoundation.org.