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Don’t read this while driving

We’ve all driven by them. You see the cell phone held up by the steering wheel, the person’s face bathed in the glow from the screen as they text. Their speed is reduced below the rest of traffic and they are often drifting around the lane like a bowling ball bouncing off the bumpers as it slowly rolls down the alley at a kid’s birthday party. This kind of driving is not safe for anyone.

Distracted driving defined

While distracted driving is most often thought of as texting and driving, there are more culprits involved. Maybe you’re playing with the radio because you didn’t want to hear another commercial. Maybe you’re attempting to dip your french fries into the ketchup. Maybe you’re looking at your navigation system to find the best way to the mall. It could simply be you’re on the phone. Or possibly having an animated discussion with friends in the back seat. All of these pull your attention from the task at hand: driving.

Doing the math

Already 11 months into the year, there have been some 18,000 crashes attributed to distracted driving in Ohio. When you do the math, you’ll quickly see why taking your eyes off the road long enough to text can be so incredibly dangerous. Imagine you’re driving at 55 miles per hour. That translates into more than 80 feet every second. You’re cruising along on Interstate 275 and a text comes in and you can’t wait to read it. Since we average 4.6 seconds to read or send a text, you’ve traveled roughly the length of a football field without looking at the road while you’re glancing at your phone.

Distracted driving prevention 101

According to the CDC, every day in the U.S. 9 people are killed and 1,000 people are injured by distracted driving. We can—and have to—do better. Some ideas to help keep your attention on the road:

  • Take the pledge. Commit to driving phone free today. Share your pledge with #justdrive.
  • Wait. You can change the station when you’re stopped. Eat that burger and fries before you leave the parking lot.
  • Plan. Set your navigation system before you get on the road.
  • Pull over. Ever see that man pulled over on the side of the road talking on his phone? He’s doing the right thing.
  • Speak up. Be the voice of safety and reason. When you see your friends or family driving while distracted, say something.

It’s not just that these distracted drivers are a danger to themselves; they are putting us all in harm’s way. With a little common sense, there will be fewer trips to court, the hospital or worse.

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