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- Traffic Safety
One Text or Call Could Wreck It All
Did you know that “distracted driving” was the 2009 word of the year according to Webster’s Dictionary? But unfortunately, this is no passing fad. Distracted driving has become a trend with deadly, real consequences.
For anyone who thinks they can talk on their phone, text, apply make-up, or do any other distracting activity while driving, it’s time for a crash course in reality from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- In 2009, nearly 5,500 people were killed and a half million more were injured in distracted driving crashes. (NHTSA)
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to be involved in a serious crash. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
- Twenty percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
- Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
While those numbers may sound like just statistics, they’re anything but. They could be parents, children, neighbors and friends from right here in Minnesota. There are too many sad tales of deaths and injuries that could have been prevented had drivers been paying attention to the road instead of someone or something else.
So, why do so many people participate in this dangerous behavior? With more technology now than ever, driver distractions have risen to unprecedented levels. We live in a world where people expect instant, real-time information 24 hours a day, and those desires don’t stop just because they get behind the wheel. Drivers simply do not realize – or choose to ignore – the danger they create when they take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, and their focus off driving.
People often say, “I can do two things at once. I’ve memorized where the numbers are on my phone, so I don’t have to look.” Or, “Sending or reading one text is pretty quick – that should be okay.” They couldn’t be more wrong.
For those who think they can do two things at once, think about this: According to a study by Carnegie Mellon, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. Can you really afford to lose that much brainpower? Driving is an activity that requires your full attention and focus in order to keep yourself and others safe.
Yes, this is a national problem, but it also affects us right here in Minnesota. No one is immune from the dangers of distracted driving. So please remember: One text or call could wreck it all.
What happens to the brain while texting or during a cell phone call.
- MRI brain scans during driving simulations show that when a driver is concentrating on driving, the area of the brain that controls for spatial awareness is lit up. When that same driver is involved in a cell phone conversation, the area of the brain that controls language comprehension lights up and the area for spatial awareness is reduced by 37%.
- A recent study of experienced truck drivers by Virginia Tech showed that texting increases the chances of a crash by 23%.
Distances covered while distracted by a cell phone or text.
A car traveling at 40 mph covers a distance of almost 60 feet per second. At that speed, taking your eyes off the road for three seconds means you will cover a distance of almost 180 feet. A lot can happen in that amount of time, especially when cars in the opposing lane are also traveling at 40 mph (a closure speed of 80 mph or 120 feet per second).
It can take up to 1 ½ to 2 full seconds from the time a driver perceives an emergency, decides what to do, and then, acts on that decision (braking or turning). During that critical 2 seconds, at 40 mph, the car will travel an additional 120 feet before the driver acts. If the driver has decided to brake, at 40 mph, it will take an additional 66 feet after the brakes are fully applied to come to a stop.
Broken down, that means:
Distraction distance for 3 seconds = 180 ft.
Reaction time (2 seconds) distance = 120 ft.
Braking distance = 66 ft.
Total distance from distraction to stop = 366 ft.
A study by Virginia Tech shows that 85 % of crashes occur within 3 seconds of a driver distraction.
What happens to the car and occupants in a crash?
- A 3,000 pound car traveling at 40 mph will experience a crash force of 80.28 tons.
- At 40 mph, a 100 pound girl, who isn’t wearing a seatbelt, will hit the steering wheel
- Or dash with a force of 2.6 tons
Most States have a Ban on Texting While Driving
Texting is so dangerous that most states have worked quickly to enact bans on texting while driving. In some states, a driver who causes a crash by texting that result in death or injury will be charged with a felony and may face up to 20 years in prison. Utah drivers can face three months in prison just for texting while driving
These are You tube spots that could go with a new category under careless and distracted driving of Texting and driving
The spots may be viewed online here:
and “Teen” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Kvqw0ExM7k).
Teen Girls Twice as Likely as Teen Boys to Use Electronic Devices while Driving
AAA Foundation in-car camera study shows distractions vary by gender and other factors
Washington, D.C. – Teen girls are twice as likely as teen boys to use cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, according to a new in-car video study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Electronic devices were the most commonly observed distracted driving activity for new teen drivers of both genders, although video captured many other serious distractions as well.
“Cell phones, texting, personal grooming, and reaching for things in the car were among the most common distracting activities found when cameras were put in new teen drivers’ cars,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “This new study provides the best view we’ve had about how and when teens engage in distracted driving behaviors believed to contribute to making car crashes the leading cause of death for teenagers.”
Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers is the first study using in-car video footage to specifically focus on teen distracted driving. Researchers at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center identified the prevalence and consequences of various distracted driver behaviors and distracting conditions among teens during high g-force maneuvers such as swerving, hard braking, or rapid acceleration.
Among the findings: the leading cause of distraction for all teens was the use of electronic devices, which was seen in seven percent of the video clips analyzed. Other than electronic device usage, teens engaged in some form of potentially distracted behavior in 15 percent of clips, of which adjusting controls, personal grooming, and eating or drinking were the most common. Many of the distracting behaviors – including use of electronic devices – were more prevalent among the older teens in the study group, suggesting rapid changes in these behaviors as teens get more comfortable behind the wheel.
Gender played a role in some of the distractions observed. Females were nearly twice as likely as males to use an electronic device while driving, and overall were nearly 10 percent more likely to be observed engaging in other distracted behaviors, such as reaching for an object in the vehicle (nearly 50 percent more likely than males) and eating or drinking (nearly 25 percent more likely). Males, on the other hand, were roughly twice as likely to turn around in their seats while driving, and were also more likely to communicate with people outside of the vehicle.
“The gender differences with regard to distraction observed in this study raise some points that we’ll want to investigate in future projects,” Kissinger said. “Every insight we gain into driver behavior has the potential to lead us to new risk management strategies.”
This article was taken from AAA Foundation website