A quick text can equal a lifetime of regret. Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
FDOT describes distracted driving is any mental or physical activity that takes the driver’s focus off the task of driving. This includes distractions by electronic communication devices (cell phones, other electronic devices (navigation devices, CD players, radios), other mental and physical distractions inside the vehicle, external distractions outside the vehicle, and general inattentiveness to the sole task of driving.
Texting while driving is now illegal in Florida. Texting and other forms of typing on a mobile device, such as emailing and note-taking, are now treated as a primary offense. The minimum amount of time a driver takes his eyes off the road for any task is five seconds. If traveling at 55 mph, this is equal to covering the distance of an entire football field while blindfolded – not something any driver would purposefully attempt. Because texting and other electronic device use involves multiple senses – sight, touch, and cognitive functions – it is becoming the most dangerous distraction for drivers by far.
Distracted driving fatality statistics
The NHTSA has published their annual Motor Vehicle Crash report for 2019: Overview of the 2019 Crash Investigation Sampling System (dot.gov)opens WORD file . Overall, the total average motor vehicle deaths went down from 2018 to 2019:
- 36,096 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, a 2% decrease from 36,835 fatalities in 2018.
- 2.74 million people were injured on U.S roads in 2019, increasing 1.1% from 2018.
- 6.76 million were in police-reported accidents in 2019, increasing 0.3% from the previous year.
Additional NHTSA data states that roughly, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured daily in accidents in which at least one driver was distracted. Additional data includes:
- Nearly 4,000 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.
- Distracted driving was the reported cause of death of 3,450 people in 2016.
- An estimated 391,000 drivers were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2017.
- For comparison, there were 39,773 gun deaths in the United States in 2017.
- In 2019, distracted driving was a reported factor in 8.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes.
It is always recommended to frequently review and update your policies regarding handheld device use and driving. This is a topic where there is no such thing as too much discussion, education, and awareness, and vigilant enforcement. It should be equally important in everyone’s personal lives. Some helpful training and educational links are provided below.
Steve Gailbreath, Loss Prevention Consultant, PRM