By: Barbara Schwartz
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Does distracted driving really need its own month? You decide.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration state that:
- 3,450 people died in 2016 due to distracted driving.1
- Distracted driving is more than texting: dialing a telephone number, posting a Facebook status, checking an email, even looking at a navigation system are considered ‘distracted driving.’1
- “During daylight hours, approximately 481,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving.”1
- “Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.”1
- Massachusetts’ Safe Driving Law “bans sending, typing or reading electronic messages to or from handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle. This includes use of the internet and text messaging. The law also bans all handheld electronic by junior operators while behind the wheel.”2
A Brockton area pediatrician told me several years ago that the West Bridgewater, MA police department set up a “trap” for distracted drivers. In one hour, more than 100 people were cited for looking at their cell phones rather than the road.
Today, on my way home from work, I counted drivers who were clearly looking at their cell phones rather than the road. 19. During a 20 minute commute, I saw 19 people operating deadly weapons (their vehicles) while not even looking at the road. Keep in mind, this was a quick count and likely undercounted as I was busy watching the road and not every driver I saw. One young man was driving down Route 3 in Braintree, MA for ten full minutes, rarely looking at the road. He was weaving in and out of his lane, jamming on his breaks when he got too close to the car in front of him, and almost hit me when I merged onto the highway.
Our children watch us. We are their role models. If we drive distracted, they will believe that they can drive distracted. Please put the phone down. If something is SO important that it must be taken care of immediately – and not much in life is that important – pull over.
In 2016, 3,450 people DIED because of distracted drivers. Many more were injured. Those deaths and injuries cannot be taken back. Please set an example for your children. Please choose to save a life. Please. Put. The. Phone. Down.