Steering Clear of Distracted Driving

We mentioned last week on this blog that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and provided you with a link to the NSC website.
The ASSE (The American Society of Safety Engineers) has also put together a webpage with a lot of really great information about how to avoid being one of the estimated 5,474 people killed on the roads each year due to distracted driving.

The average teenager stays “connected” via cell phone and computer 24/7. The idea of disconnecting for however long it takes to drive from point A to point B is absolutely unthinkable to them; so much might happen in that amount of time (Just witness the speed at which a Facebook post disappears down the page and gets lost). Unless we can get them (and us) to understand how life threatening this really is, we are going to see an ever increasing number of people die on our roads.

The ASSE website page entitled “Prevent Distracted Driving” has some great documentation regarding research that has been done and the results of those studies.

Two studies that are available on their website that are especially interesting:
Distracted Driving – Examining the effects of in-vehicle tasks
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving What you should know and how to get you there safely!
Managing Unsafe Drivers & Their Unsafe Habits

The first of the above links has a number of charts and diagrams illustrating response times based on travelling at 50 mph or 60 mph and the devastating consequences. Do yourself and your teenagers a favor and learn to turn off your cell phone while driving. It is simply too tempting if it is on and you hear a message come through or the phone ring.


Cell phone use and texting ban maps

I live in the state of WA. Washington is one of 10 states that have a complete ban on the use of cell phones while driving. They are also one of 35 states that now have bans on texting while driving (What the rest of the states are waiting for, I have no idea!).

If you want to find out what the laws are for your state or if you are traveling and will be passing through several states along the way, there’s a great place to find out.

http://www.iihs.org/laws/maptextingbans.aspx we show you a map giving you a color code that shows which states have a ban on all drivers, which one have a partial ban and which ones have no ban at all.

As you can see in the above screen capture, there are also buttons that will take you to other maps that show “hand-held bans”, “Young Driver Bans”, “Bus Driver Bans” or, if you prefer a more detailed, state by state table view, you can get that as well.

I’m hoping this site won’t even exist in a couple of years. We shouldn’t need it when all the maps are completely green.

 



What is “Distracted Driving”?

We are hearing a lot, lately about “distracted driving”. Because of the use of cell phones, GPS, texting, etc… distracted driving has increasingly become a major concern. In spite of having the lowest highway mortality in years, distracted driving is going to change those stats very soon unless some major changes come down the pike.

What is it that we are talking about when we use the term “distracted driving”?

According to a new website by the U.S. Department of Transportation Distraction.gov they come in three forms:

  • Visual – taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual – taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive – taking you mind off of what you’re doing

Essentially, anything that takes the eyes, the hands or the mind off of the task of driving the vehicle is classified as a distraction.

The reason that texting has become a major issue recently then, has to do with the fact that all three factors are involved. The eyes are obviously not on the road as the driver needs to look at the screen, the hands are not on the wheel as at least one hand is being used to text and the mind is not focusing on driving because it is engaged in thinking about what the driver is busy texting. It’s not hard to see why it is so dangerous. Statistics tell us that a driver using a hand-held device is 4 times more likely to be involved in a serious accident which will result in injury to himself or others.

According to distraction.gov other distractions include:

  • Using a cell phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player.

It is, of course, unrealistic to believe that we will never be distracted. CD players and radios are standard in vehicles. When we look at the last distraction especially, it becomes obvious that much of our driving is done while distracted (the nature of driving itself lends to daydreaming). Understanding this, however, should make us all the more cautious about driving ourselves to further distraction.


Downloads and other fun stuff for Drive Safe Work Week 2010

NETS (the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety) has partnered with the DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) to help raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

I personally know someone who was on the phone with a co-worker when she went off a bridge while on her cell phone. He told me that he can never get the scream that he heard as she plunged to her death, out of his mind.

Go to http://trafficsafety.org/dsww-materials to download a weeks’ worth of brochures, activities, handouts, pledge cards and more for you and your employees. Make a commitment not to pick up your cell phone while you are driving, not to call your co-workers or employees when you know that they are driving and not to send or receive texts while driving.

Simply fill out a short two question survey to receive the login information in order to download the materials.

While you’re there, why not join NETS too?


If everyone’s a teacher than most of us are bad teachers

The title of my post this morning refers to a previous post “Everyone’s a teacher” in which I talked about the importance of being a good example to teens concerning not texting while driving.

Turns out most of us aren’t concerned about being a good example. According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek “Adults out-text teens while driving“.

The article states:

“About 47 percent of adults who use the text-messaging function on their cell phones said they have read or sent messages while driving. That compares with 34 percent of texting teens, ages 16 and 17.”

“Focus groups have shown that many teens have seen their parents and older siblings send or read messages while piloting a vehicle”

At what point do we understand the importance of what our children see us doing as opposed to what they hear us saying? The old adage of “Do what I say not as I do” isn’t going to, and never has, cut it.

Don’t make your next text be one that’s sent on the way back from some teenagers’ funeral.


Driving Simulator Shows Texting While Driving

Okay, I know, I’ve talked about this before but I came across a couple of online videos that show, through a driving simulator, what is happening (where the line of sight is) when someone tries to text while driving.

The Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts has made available several videos showing teenagers texting while driving in a driving simulator.

The videos are available at http://www.ecs.umass.edu/hpl/ (click on the “Young Drivers” tab under “Our Research”)

 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a 2 minute video worth?


Can you say “Duh!” Part 3

I’m not sure why, but I keep thinking that my “Duh” posts are at an end… and then I find another article that just screams “Duh!” and I have to post another.

The first “Can you say Duh” post was on May 26th about a study that concluded that severely obese people were less productive than normal weight workers (you can read it here).

The second “Can you say Duh” post was dated July 12th and was about another study that concluded that workers who can’t see well and don’t correct their vision impairment can’t do their job as well as those who get their vision corrected.

Now, a new study that apparently costs over $300,000 has concluded (I’m not making this up) that truckers who text while driving aren’t as safe as drivers who don’t. The article in the Washington Post can be read here. At least employers now have the data needed to counter employees when they crash the vehicle and claim “No! It had nothing to do with the fact that I was texting at the time!”

That should make us all feel a lot better.