April Distracted Drivers Awareness and Tips

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Drivers Distracted and Impaired at All Levels of Performance

Drivers today love their electronics, Cell phones, onboard video systems and navigation devices allow them to stay connected and find their destinations. These wireless devices have become indispensable, especially with salespeople, repair personnel, and other employees who drive as part of their job. Cell phones especially allow them to maintain productivity on the road. National Safety council statistics show cell phones are the number one distracted item leading to collisions. No driver is immune, fatal crashes involve all age groups. You are also 23 times greater chance of being in an accident if you are texting while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” All distractions endanger the driver, passengers, and any other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists that may be in close range.

The first level of performance involves controlkeeping the vehicle on course. People talking or texting on cell phones while driving show deficiencies such as drifting out of their lane or drifting to the side of the road.

The second level of performance involves skills needed for maneuvering the vehicle in traffic.Examples of deficiencies at this level include approaching other vehicles too closely, ignoring approaching vehicles while turning at intersections, changes in speed, and delayed reaction times.

The third level of performance described in the study involves what the researchers call “more executive, goal-directed aspects of driving” and reflects strategic performance. Examples of deficiencies at this level are failures to properly execute navigation tasks (for instance, missing an exit) or trip-related planning tasks.

Passengers may actually improve safety, says study co-author David Strayer, because the passenger “adds a second set of eyes, helps the driver navigate, and reminds them where to go.”

Previous studies by the Utah scientists found that hands-free phones were just as distracting as hand-held models because the phone conversation is the biggest driving distraction.

Other Distractions Can Be Deadly, Too.

The NHTSA and NETS identifies a number of other dangerous driving distractions, including:

· Pets- Having your pet in your lap, loose on the dash or in the front seating area-(Tennessee, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Missouri all have pending laws that will make having your pet in your lap or dash illegal)

Loud Music

We all love to belt out our favorite tunes while cruising with the windows down (though admittedly, some of us should leave the singing to the professionals). But having your radio turned up not only draws more of your focus to the song youre singing along with it also prevents you from being able to hear important sounds around you. The honking of car horns, the blare of an emergency vehicle, the screech of tires all of these important sounds will be blocked if all you can hear is Justin Bieber.

Scenery

While taking a road trip through some of natures most amazing spots is wonderful, those same beautiful locations can also prove to be quite dangerous. When you take your attention of the road and focus on those snow-capped mountains or that magnificent waterfall instead, you could inadvertently swerve into another lane, or miss a bend in the road, sending you careening off into the abyss Okay, perhaps thats slightly dramatic. But paying more attention to your surroundings that to your driving has major consequences for you and for other drivers so please, put the cell phone camera down and keep your hands on the wheel.

Conversation

Were not saying you should sequester yourself in your car, or put duct tape over your passengers mouths. But when you find yourself paying more attention to your friends than to the cars around you, the risk for a crash increases by a good margin. As humans, we tend to want to look at someone who is speaking to us, thereby creating the even greater hazard of taking our eyes off of the road ahead of us. But even if you have the willpower of a Billy goat and keep your eyes where they belong, the mental concentration that youre providing to the conversation is enough of a hidden distraction to cause serious danger to yourself, and that friend who simply wont stop gabbing.

Mental Distractions

Most people can easily associate distracted driving with extreme anger or sadness, and everyone knows not to get behind the wheel if youre too emotionally or mentally distracted. However, it is equally as dangerous to be on the roads if your mind is somewhere else, or your inner monologue is constantly going. Maybe you have a long list of things to do at work, which is causing you stress. Perhaps youre replaying a conversation in your head that you have recently had, or youre rehearsing your speech for a big proposal you have coming up. Any of these scenarios can be a huge distraction and keep your attention away from the roads.

· Reading a map, book, newspaper or other material

· Grooming or apply lipstick or eye care products

· Adjusting vehicle climate/radio controls

· Eating a meal or a snack while driving

·

· Thinking about things other than driving such as personal problems, work, etc.

NETS also points out that a driver’s ability to manage distractions is affected by stress and fatigue.

OSHA chimes in with this observation: “With hectic schedules and roadway delays, many employees feel pressured to multitask just to keep up with their personal and work-related responsibilities. More time on the road means less time at home or at work, but ‘drive time’ can never mean ‘down time.'”

Experts report that drivers make more than 200 decisions during every mile traveled. So it’s critical to stress to employees, says OSHA, that when driving, “safe driving is the primary responsibility.”

Recently, there has been a large amount of public commentary regarding the dangers of distracted driving, including texting while driving. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which regulates workplace safety, has now officially declared texting while driving to be a workplace hazard and an OSHA violation. In its recent open letter to employers, OSHA explained that:

It is [the employer’s] responsibility and legal obligation to create and maintain a safe and healthful workplace, and that would include having a clear, unequivocal and enforced policy against the hazard of texting while driving. Companies are in violation of [OSHA] if, by policy or practice, they require texting while driving, or create incentives that encourage or condone it, or they structure work so that texting is a practical necessity for workers to carry out their job.

The Department of Labor and the Department of Transportation are partnering with OSHA in its distracted driving initiative. These government agencies are initiating public awareness campaigns on the issue of distracted driving.

Additionally, more than half of the states have enacted laws against distracted driving beyond the traditional workplace. For example, most states prohibit drivers from texting while driving regardless of whether their vehicle is used for business or not. Eight states, including California and New York, prohibit drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving and authorize an officer to cite a driver for a violation without the requirement that any other traffic offense take place. Thirty more states ban text messaging while driving. A complete listing of current state laws on cell phone use and texting while driving can be found on the Governors Highway Safety Associations website or the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

Cell phone and Text Messaging Ban State law list below:

State Handheld Ban All Cell Phone Ban Text Messaging Ban Crash
Data
School Bus Drivers Novice Drivers All
Drivers
School Bus Drivers Novice Drivers
Alabama 16, or 17 w/ Intermediate License <6 months
(Primary)
16, or 17 w/ Intermediate License <6 months
(Primary)
Alaska Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Arizona Yes
(Primary)
Arkansas 1 18 – 20 years old (Primary) Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Secondary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
California Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Secondary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Colorado <18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Connecticut Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
Delaware Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Learner or Intermediate License (Primary) Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
D.C. Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Learners Permit
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Florida Yes
Georgia Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Guam Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
Hawaii 2 See footnote
Idaho 3 See footnote
Illinois 4 See footnote Yes
(Primary)
<19
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Indiana <18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Iowa Restricted or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
(Secondary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Kansas Learner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Kentucky Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
Louisiana Learner or Intermediate License
(regardless of age)
Yes
(Primary)
1st year of License
(Primary for <18)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Maine <18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Maryland Yes
(Secondary)
<18 w/ Learner or Provisional License
(Secondary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Massachusetts Yes
(Primary)
<18(Primary) Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Michigan 5 See footnote Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Minnesota Yes
(Primary)
<18 w/ Learner or Provisional License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Mississippi Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Learner or Provisional License
(Primary)
Missouri <21
(Primary)
Montana Yes
Nebraska <18 w/ Learner or Intermediate License
(Secondary)
Yes
(Secondary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Nevada Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
New Hampshire 6 Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
New Jersey Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Permit or Provisional License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
New Mexico In State vehicles Learner or Provisional License
(Primary)
Learner or Provisional License
(Primary)
Yes
New York Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
North Carolina Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
North Dakota <18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Ohio
Oklahoma Learner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Learner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
Oregon Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Pennsylvania Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Rhode Island Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
South Carolina 7 See footnote
South Dakota Yes
Tennessee Yes
(Primary)
Learner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Texas8 Yes, w/ passenger <17
(Primary)
Intermediate License, 1st 12 mos.
(Primary)
Yes, w/ passenger <17
(Primary)
Intermediate License, 1st 12 mos.
(Primary)
Yes
Utah 9 See footnote Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Vermont <18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
Virgin Islands Yes Yes
Virginia Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Secondary)
Yes
(Secondary)
Covered under all driver ban
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Washington Yes
(Primary)
Learner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
West Virginia Yes
(Secondary until 7/1/13)
(eff. 7/1/12)
<18 w/ Learner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
(eff. 7/1/12)
Covered under all driver ban
Wisconsin Learner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
(eff. 11/1/12)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
Wyoming Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban Yes
Total States 10 + D.C. Guam, Virgin Islands
Primary (8 + D.C., Guam)
Secondary (2)
19 + D.C.
All Primary
31 + D.C.
Primary (26 + D.C.)
Secondary (5)
36 + D.C., Guam
Primary (33 + D.C., Guam)
Secondary (3)
3
All Primary
6
All Primary
35 + D.C., Virgin Islands

1 Arkansas also bans the use of handheld cell phones while driving in a school zone or in a highway construction zone. This law is secondarily enforced.
2 Hawaii does not have a state law banning the use of handheld cell phones. However, all of the state’s counties have enacted distracted driving ordinances.
3 Idaho has a “Distraction in/on Vehicle (List)” attribute as part of its Contributing Circumstances element, and officers are supposed to list the distractions in the narrative.
4 Illinois bans the use of handheld cell phones while driving in a school zone or in a highway construction zone.
5 In Michigan, teens with probationary licenses whose cell phone usage contributes to a traffic crash or ticket may not use a cell phone while driving.
6 Dealt with as a distracted driving issue; New Hampshire enacted a comprehensive distracted driving law.
7 South Carolina has a Distracted/inattention attribute under Contributing Factors.
8Texas has banned the use of hand-held phones and texting in school zones.
9 Utah’s law defines careless driving as committing a moving violation (other than speeding) while distracted by use of a handheld cell phone or other activities not related to driving.

Safe Phone Use

· Use a head set while driving or pull over to use a hand-held cell phone.

· Make sure that the phone is kept where it is easy to see and easy to reach.

· Plan any calls you will need to make before you begin to drive. Enter numbers into your speed-dialing feature.

· When dialing manually without the speed-dialing feature, dial only when the vehicle is stopped.

· Avoid placing calls while moving. If possible, make your calls when stopped at a stop sign, red light, or when you are otherwise stationary.

· If possible, ask a passenger to make the call for you or at least dial the number for you.

· Never take notes or look up phone numbers while driving.

· Suspend a conversation during hazardous circumstancesfor example, in heavy traffic, when maneuvering around a hazard, or in severe weather conditions.

· While talking, keep your head up and your eyes on the road and frequently check the side and rearview mirrors.

· Let voice mail pick up your calls when it is inconvenient or unsafe to answer the cell phone.

MULTITASKING

New additions to your car are what new car owners want. Additionally, in automakers minds, arguably an even bigger focus is their obsession for adding more and more features to the inside of our vehicles. The result of this push to meet perceived consumer demand is that the concept of distracted driving has almost taken on new meaning.

Whether its adding Bluetooth connectivity, smart phone apps, voice command technology, streaming TV, real time traffic updates or local points of interest, there are so many things to take our eyes off the road some are saying its a wonder there arent more accidents on our streets and highways.

To make matters worse, the relentless march of turning the inside of a vehicle into an extension of the living room or office shows no signs of abating. In fact, the situation has gotten to the point that in 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration observed that some 3,092 road-related fatalities alone were the result of distracted driving or multitasking behind the wheel.

New for 2012, The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued guidelines for auto industry, which require that no task take longer than two seconds and the vehicle must be stationary with the transmission in park before driver can use navigation screens or access social media feeds.

DISTRACTED DRIVING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The best way to help fight distracted driving is to get educated. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions that will help you better understand the safety threat posed by texting and cell phone use on America’s roadways.

1. Is distracted driving really a problem?
Distracted driving kills. The friends, family, and neighbors of the thousands of people killed each year in distracted driving crashes will tell you it is a very serious safety problem. The nearly half a million people injured each year will agree.

2. What is distracted driving?
Distraction occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

3. I’m a pretty good driver. Can’t some people text or talk on the phone and drive safely?
No, they can’t. Research indicates that the burden of talking on a cell phone – even if it’s hands-free – saps the brain of 39% of the energy it would ordinarily devote to safe driving. Using a cell phone while driving delays your reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08, the legal limit for drunk driving. Drivers who use a hand-held device are 4 times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to get involved in a crash.

4. If it’s so dangerous, why do people do it?
Some people still don’t know how dangerous distracted driving is. Others know about the risks of texting and talking while driving, but still choose to do so anyway. They make the mistake of thinking the statistics don’t apply to them, that they can defy the odds. Still others simply lead busy, stressful lives and use cell phones and smart phones to stay connected with their families, friends, and workplaces. They forget or choose not to shut these devices off when they get behind the wheel.

5. Who are the most serious offenders?
Our youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk, with 16% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under 20. But they are not alone. At any given moment during daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.

6. Sending or reading one text is pretty quick, unlike a phone conversation – wouldn’t that be okay?
Texting is the most alarming distraction because it involves manual, visual, and cognitive distraction simultaneously. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded. It’s extraordinarily dangerous.

7. Is it safe to use a hands-free device to talk on a cell phone while driving?
So far, the research indicates that the cognitive distraction of having a hands-free phone conversation causes drivers to miss the important visual and audio cues that would ordinarily help you avoid a crash.

8. Why doesn’t the U.S. Department of Transportation make distracted driving illegal?
Passenger car driving behavior falls under the jurisdiction of the individual states, so the U.S. DOT can’t ban it. Congress has considered a number of good laws to prevent distracted driving, but unfortunately nothing has passed yet. However, many states have stepped up to pass tough laws against texting, talking on a cell phone, and other distractions. See the chart above.

When operating a vehicle your main focus should be on safely getting to your destination and obeying the rules of the road and not on your phone or other distractions. If are distracted you are putting yourself and others in serious danger. You may think that you can safely look away from the road for a few seconds to answer a text message, but it only takes seconds for a threat to arise.

Safe driving requires good decision-making and full attention of the drivers. Safety First, Safety Always!

Information from NSC, NETS, OSHA, NHTSA, GHSA, Clement Communications and Distraction.gov

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of

Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

keno

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