Ongoing education crucial to preventing distracted driving accidents
It has taken years of educating the public and using innovative enforcement techniques, but the annual number of drunk driving fatalities in the United States has been reduced significantly in the last few decades. For this general downward trend to continue, appropriate education and enforcement efforts must be ongoing in Indiana and throughout the country.
The same goes for distracted driving, which studies have shown can be as dangerous as being drunk behind the wheel. There are many forms of distracted driving, but perhaps the most dangerous is texting.
Texting while driving requires the cognitive, manual and visual attention of the driver. Each of these faculties is crucial to safe driving, and studies have shown that being cognitively, manually and visually distracted while operating a vehicle can be as deadly as driving while impaired.
To put the problem of distracted driving into perspective — and particularly the dangers of texting while driving — it is helpful to consider an illustration provided in a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the trucking industry.
The FMCSA found that texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds at a time. With that said, imagine that you’re driving at 55 miles per hour while texting. At that speed, you could cover 100 yards, the distance of a football field, in five seconds — except you’re doing this essentially while blindfolded.
If you imagine all of the things that could happen in five seconds on a road while you’re not looking, then you can imagine why texting while driving takes so many people’s lives each year.
Indiana law bans texting while driving for all drivers. Additionally, the law bans all use of cell phones, whether they are hands-free or handheld, for novice drivers — those who are younger than 18. Distraction.gov provides more information about every state’s laws regarding drivers’ use of cell phones and other electronic devices.