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Distracted Driving and Driving Safety

Updated on May 8, 2013
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Awareness and the Law

Distracted Driving Laws in the US States are gaining greater attention as the various media publicize growing numbers of deaths related to texting while driving. Texting is only one of a growing cadre of distractions that have always included activities like eating sloppy foods, arguing with passengers, combing hair, applying makeup, and using electric shavers plugged into the cigarette lighter. For instance, a Senior Citizen I know brags about how often she drives on Interstate Highways while reading a paperback romance novel propped on the steering wheel. Overly loud music can hamper not only one's own driving but also that of fellow drivers. My favorite to highlight is the child sitting in the back seat that asks to stop for french fries at a famous burger place and, being told "No", stands and covers the driver's eyes tightly with his hands. All sorts of distractions are emerging. The link below to the Federal site for prevention of Distracted Driving provides additional information.

Given 2010s automotive technology, dashboards offer iPod, iPad and SmartPhone docks, television, DVD players, and a myriad of other applications that might cause deadly distractions. At the same time, state laws targeting in-vehicle distractions are becoming more top-of-mind among law enforcement patrols.

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New Distractions

New distractions come in the form of animated billboards that include television news reports and lower-screen ticker tapes at high-traffic intersections. My city has a few and they can be extremely distracting.

Some communities have toyed with the idea of placing stationary ads right on the highway pavement as well. These are similar to the large product decals pasted to supermarket floors - I have disorientation each time I walk over one of those. Driving over larger ones on the asphalt would create a stable of problems: reading the ad instead of paying attention to driving, slowing down to read and creating rear-end accidents, stopping and backing up when missing an interesting ad, feeling disoriented altogether, becoming unable to see lane dividing lines, and probably several others.

Local law enforcement agencies and city governments may need to consider distractions outside the vehicle over which drivers have no control, as well to target in-vehicle distractions. The television bill boards are probably the worst safety problem at this time.

Look for your US State at the link below to examine your Distracted Driving Law, and celebrate Teen Driving Awareness Week during October 17 - 23, 2011.

To a Driver

Don't stick your elbow out so far or it might go home in another car!

-- Burma Shave

Proper distance to him was bunk; they pulled him out of some guy's trunk.

-- BurmaShave

iPhone App
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Most Startling

Our American driving culture formerly was one in which people inside moving automobiles minded their own business and drivers attended to the road - at least in my Midwest. Maybe it's the decline of the Burma Shave signs that warned drivers from time to time, but that culture died in the late 1970s.

Increasing numbers of drivers and passengers look, beckon and shout into others' vehicles these days. Some of these events are attempts to car jack people, others are the result of nosiness, others are an exhibition of road rage, and others are people trying to connect with a potential new dating partner in another vehicle. Some people, children included, face backwards in the rear windows of vehicles and attempt to distract drivers behind them. Still other drivers honk repeatedly in heavy traffic when they see someone they know in another car -- This can be deadly and has been the cause several accidents in my town. All this is dangerous, but add tailgating to the mix and we have an even higher probability of traffic accidents.

Other drivers have made themselves a self appointed vigilante posse against texting. These folks continually crane their necks while looking for cell phones in other vehicles; and, if they see one, begin honking and shouting. The vigilantes can cause as many accidents and deaths as those that are texting while driving. The vigilantes are not helping. While driving, the best safety technique may be to turn off cell phones completely (powered off) and committedly put them away until reaching a rest stop or the final destination.

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Be aware of in-vehicle and extravehicular distractions and avoid them. If you have teenaged drivers at home, talk to them about all the possible distractions.

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    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 

      7 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      So important to teach the younger kids about road safety while under the wheel of a car....(and a lot of us older ones too) In fact we all should be aware of the many distractions on the road for our own safety.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      This is such an important topic that becomes more and more relevant each year. It is really frustrating when there are distractions like flashing billboards that drivers can't even control.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I just read in the paper last night that in Ohio, one can freely text and cell phone talk while driving. We have no Distracted Driving law at all yet. Hope it changes.

      Simone - That's a good idea about the book.

      If we could ban the TV billboards, I'd be happy.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      voted up and useful! Well written and informative. I just put a Hub up similar in nature. Maybe if enough people keep harping on the effects of texting while driving some kids will listen...

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      What about women who apply their makeup while driving, or, men shaving, and drivers paying more attention to kid playing or fighting in the back, or, trying to read a map while driving, or, chatting with a passenger in the passenger seat instead of concentrating on traffic? Iv'e witnessed all of these and these are all accidents ready to happen.

      There are also so many drivers who haven't a clue what they are doing and cutoff others or drive like their on a racetrack, even driving to slowly maybe cuz their lost and won't stop to ask where they are.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Gosh, there really *are* a lot of distractions on the roads these days. You should tell that romance novel-reading senior citizen you know to get some good books on tape! Some of my favorite romances have recorded versions and they're MUCH safer when listened to- not read.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      7 years ago

      Cell phones and other devices turned OFF while driving! GREAT Hub Patty!

      In California the "no talking on the cell phone" law completely left out the "no texting" and "no surfing the web" part!

      As you mentioned, it's not the device, it's the driver's "brain" being distracted that causes the problems. Cell phones, frech fries, mascara or screaming kids ~ it doesn't matter.

      We all seem to think the "other person" is incompetant and dangerous while we ourselves are fully capable of handling distractions. We are not.

      Thank you for bringing this really important matter to our attention!

      Blessings always, Earth Angel!!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      7 years ago

      Great observations and advice. I can't believe how badly people drive these days. Hardly anyone has their eyes on the road and defensive driving has taken on new meaning! Up and awesome.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 

      7 years ago

      Just the other day I saw a guy smoking a cigarette in one hand, fiddling with his phone in the other, wearing glasses and running a stop sign because he wasn't even watching the road. I don't care what gadget one has to aid the texting while driving, the real solution is not doing it. I think Flora is right the offense fine is too low, I bet if it was as much as a no insurance ticket one may consider their action, then again uninsured drivers are of the masses, it is only wrong if you get caught, right?

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 

      7 years ago

      I know a number of people who have gotten multiple fines for being caught talking on a cell while driving. They don't seem to care-the first offence at $120 may be too low?

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      7 years ago from Northern, California

      I love the iPhone app for the texting status, really good idea! Great information, links and advice Patty. Another high quality hub! Thanks for the "driving laws" insight.

      Cheers~

      k9

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