According to the New York Times, using a phone while operating a vehicle puts drivers at four times the risk of crashing as other drivers. The likelihood that the crash would happen is the same as someone with a . 08 percent blood alcohol level (where drivers are considered to be intoxicated) (Richtel 1). A 2003 Harvard study estimated that 330,000 car accidents occurred in the United States with moderate and severe injuries among the victims as a result of cell phone use. Another 2,600 cell phone related accidents resulted in a death (Richtel 1).
The problem is that most drivers over estimate their ability to multi-task. Their consciousness is quickly divided as soon as their attention is focused on things other than the road. Distracted driving is not just limited to cell phone use while driving. It can include behaviors such as shaving, eating, drinking, talking, or even listening to the radio. With these behaviors, both hands may not be on the wheel, eyes may not be fixed on the road, or attention could be transfixed on other noises and surroundings.
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Accidents happen once attention is taken off of the road. One glance at a text message could take three seconds.
In three seconds a driver could have drifted off into the other lane, or not have seen the person stop suddenly in front of them. Changing the radio can also be very distracting. Having to scroll through numerous radio stations and mess with the volume can be difficult to do without having to actually look at the radio. Even drinking can cause distracted driving. If a driver is drinking coffee and it spills for example, their automatic reaction will be to jolt from their seat a little or try to quickly clean it up. While cleaning the mess the driver can swerve without knowing it.
Even though many things that are in our vehicles can be considered distractions, there are ways to minimize their distraction. The cell phone, for example, can be put away in a bag or set in the other seat so that it is not in reach of the driver. According to Consumer News, drivers should check and respond to any messages or calls before they set out on the road (How to minimize distracted driving 1). If an important call comes in while the driver is on the road, the safest thing to do is to pull off on the side of the road or in a parking lot and take the call.
Drivers can also choose the radio station and set the temperature to a comfortable setting before getting on the road. One major preparation drivers can take is to allow enough time to make their trip. Drivers are too often in a rush to get from Point A to Point B and cause accidents. They will cut others off or try roll through stop signs to cut their time back. The roads will be much safer if drivers take the time to minimize their distractions and focus their undivided attention to the road and other vehicles.