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Distracted Driving: Are You Guilty?

Updated on January 20, 2014
Using a cell phone while driving is not just dangerous; it's illegal
Using a cell phone while driving is not just dangerous; it's illegal

What Are Distractions?

In recent years, much noise has been made about the bad habit of talking on cell phones and/or texting while driving. Neither of those are safe things to do; they are very much distractions, and in most states, against the law.

However, a more general definition of 'distracted driving,' is any activity which prevents you from paying 100% attention to the task of driving.

There are many, many distractions available in our modern lives, and we must be vigilant not to fall victim to these bad habits, for it may mean saving our own lives, or that of someone else. Statistics have claimed that up to 80% of all accidents are caused by distracted driving of one sort or another.

The truth is, distractions have always been with us; it's just that there are more and more of them these days. Check the list below to see what qualifies.

Some Examples of Distractions

  • The infamous talking/dialing/texting on cell phones tops the list
  • Fiddling with climate controls
  • Tuning in a radio station or putting in a CD
  • Reading a map or looking at the GPS display (pull over to read a map; set the GPS for voice prompts)
  • Reading a book! (Yes, I've seen people with books propped up on their steering wheel!)
  • Grooming/putting on makeup
  • Arguing with anyone--passenger next to you; kids in back seat; someone on the phone (see #1)
  • Gawking at an accident or a cop pulling someone over
  • Turning around to yell at/smack kids
  • Loose animal in the car--dogs are the most likely offenders; dog in lap, especially bad, and illegal in many states
  • Turning to look at those sign-jigglers advertising everything from pizza to new homes.
  • Looking away from the road to ogle a hot babe or guy
  • Searching for something in purse, glove box, or pile of papers on the seat

Fiddling with the climate controls or radio/CD player is just as bad
Fiddling with the climate controls or radio/CD player is just as bad

Stop the Car!

When you really think about it, there is not a single thing on earth so important that it cannot wait until you have arrived at your destination.

For those few things that do need a 'right now' answer or information, please, find a place to pull over, and stop the car before reading or sending that text message or answering that phone call.

Recent statistics have shown that talking on the phone is distracted driving, regardless of "hands-free" devices. There really is no difference, for the conversation itself pulls the driver's attention off the road.

How many news broadcasts, posts on Face Book, newspaper articles, have we all seen with the same general message, involving someone dead in an auto accident because someone thought it was so important to send a text message? When will it be enough? When will everyone learn?

Not a single one of us is exempt from the laws of physics, and those are the laws in play when these things happen. Do you want to be responsible for killing someone else with your car? Do you want to be the next headline for going to your own grave too early? No, I don't think so.

Pay 100% attention to your driving; stop the car if you need directions or have to make an emergency call or text. And by the way, messages such as, "Where are you?" or "I'll be there in a few minutes" are not emergencies!

We Are Not Immortals

The concept of immortality is fun to play with; goodness knows Hollywood has made plenty of money from exploiting that particular fantasy. But fantasy is just what it is.

Too many people, and sadly, young people especially, seem to have a sense of invincibility and immortality. The idea that "It's not going to happen to me," is far too prevalent. But the headlines prove otherwise.

Don't ruin your life or someone else's because you couldn't wait to send a text; argue with your spouse; scold the kids in the back or corral the dog.

Even with one hand still on the wheel, your eyes are still off the road
Even with one hand still on the wheel, your eyes are still off the road

Photo Credits

All photos by Liz Elias, 10-27-13. Thanks to my grandson for posing for these. Please be aware, these photos were not taken while he was driving; they were posed for the article while the cars were parked.


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