It’s back to school time and that means more traffic on the road—including inexperienced teenage drivers.
If you haven’t already reviewed the rules of safe driving—and reviewed them with your teens who will be behind the wheel this school year, Roper Insurance would like to share a few reminders with you and your teens to help keep you safe on the road this year.
Distracted Driving is the Number One Cause of Auto Accidents
Every day, more than 1,160 people are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In addition, the NHTSA claims that driver inattention is the leading contributor in most crashes or near-miss accidents in the United States.
Distracted driving is driving while doing any other activity that takes your attention away from the road, and can greatly increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving
By practicing safe driving techniques you can significantly reduce your chances of being involved in an auto accident.
Inattention on the Road
Of all crashes, over 90 percent involve driver inattention within a three-second window of the incident. The moral of the story: When motorists change radio stations, try to read maps use their phones, they are putting themselves and others at risk.
While there is little you can do to control other people’s driving, there is plenty you can do to reduce your own distractions. Do not engage in any of the following while driving:
- Touching up makeup or hair
- Focusing more on your interactions with your passengers than with your driving
- Adjusting the radio or other audio devices
- Allowing your dog to sit on your lap
- Cell phone use
Avoid Drowsy Driving
Driving any distance requires you to be physically and mentally well-rested. Fatigue plays a large role in motor vehicle accidents and can be a major element in driving distractions. If you become drowsy, pull off the road and take a short nap.
Know Where You Are Going
Before you set out for a new location, familiarize yourself with the route. If you need to check your map or call for directions along the way, pull over before doing so.
Stay off the Phone
According to the National Safety Council, one in four accidents is caused by texting and driving, and cell phone use is responsible for 1.6 million crashes each year. Even more alarming, one-third of teens 16 to 17 years old admit to have texted while driving—and texting and driving is the leading cause of death in teens.
Cell phones are the most common driver distraction. Driving while talking on the phone is dangerous because you cannot adequately divide your attention between the road and your conversation. If you must talk on your phone while driving, using a hands-free device will at least let you keep both hands on the wheel.
Here are some tips to avoid distractions on the road:
- Never use a cell phone in bad weather, work zones or heavy traffic. This includes the use of a hands-free device to make a call.
- Pull over in a safe area if you absolutely need to use your phone.
- Make all necessary calls before you start to drive. Also, consider setting up an automatic reply for when people call or text you while you’re driving.
- Never send or read texts or emails while behind the wheel.
How Texting is Different and More Dangerous than Talking while Driving
Even more dangerous than talking on the phone is texting. Texting while driving is comparable to drunk driving in terms of decreased reaction time and impairment. You should always refrain from texting, checking email, programming a mobile GPS device or using your phone in any way while driving. If necessary, silence or turn off your phone.
The most prevalent danger on roadways is texting while driving. Texting requires a motorist’s full attention, which inhibits his or her ability to pay attention to the road. This concern is by no means limited to everyday drivers; inattention due to texting has caused many occupational drivers to be involved in deadly roadway crashes.
No message is more important than saving someone’s life.
To combat the growing danger of phone use while driving, many states have enacted laws against texting and handheld cell phone use. Not only could you be endangering yourself and those around you, but phone use while driving could cost you a lot of money in fines. In Colorado, the fine for a first offense is $300.
Commit to being safe behind the wheel. Consider taking Take the Pledge Poster–and making it a requirement of driving for your teen drivers to do the same. Not only will you be more likely to arrive safely at your destination and avoid distracted driving accidents, your good driving habits (and your teen’s good driving habits) will save you money on auto maintenance and your automobile insurance.