April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time when drivers across the nation are encouraged to recommit to safe driving practices and educate themselves about the dangers of distracted driving. Our goal is to help Grange Insurance Association policyholders, and other members of the community, to seize this opportunity to make our roads as safe as possible.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) defines distracted driving as "driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving." The most common distractions involve cell phone use, such as talking on the phone, texting, using video chat, reading, and checking social media.
Distracted driving has proven to be a deadly problem. According to the CDCP there were 3,154 deaths and 424,000 injuries in 2013 that involved a distracted driver. Overall, nearly one in five crashes in 2013 involved a distracted driver. In 2014, not much changed: 3,179 deaths and 431,000 injuries involved distracted drivers.
Cell phone use while driving has become an enormous issue during last decade, especially texting while driving. According to Distraction.gov, texting takes a driver's attention off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55mph, that means you would travel the length of a football field. Imagine yourself driving blindfolded across a football field for five straight seconds; it's easy to see how much damage can occur, even in a short time.
Younger drivers have been shown to be more susceptible to distractions while driving. According to Distraction.gov, one in ten drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 who were involved in a crash were distracted, and this age group accounts for the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of a crash. If you have teen driversunder your roof, consider having them take a driver safety course before loaning out the family car. As a quick start, look over the National Safety Council's information packet with your family to put the dangers of texting or calling while driving into perspective.
Some kinds of workers are also apt to use cell phones while driving, for example, those who rely on GPS for directions. Sadly, vehicle crashes are the number one cause of work-related deaths each year. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has started an initiative to prohibit workplace policies that allow or incentivize texting and cellphone use while driving. If you make calls while driving or have employees that do, consider adopting OSHA's policies. Even hands-off, voice activated calls prove to be a cognitive distraction.
Due to the staggering statistics surrounding distracted driving deaths, laws about cell phone use while driving are tightening. In most states even having a cellphone in your hand while driving is illegal, and considered a primary law, meaning that police officers can pull a driver over without any other cause. In Washington State merely having your cell phone out while driving could lead to a $124 fine. In Oregon the fine is $142, $72 in Wyoming, $161 in California, $85 in Idaho, and $50 in Colorado for a first offense and $100 for a second.
Safe driving not only keeps your auto insurance premiums lower, but, more importantly, it saves lives. When we drive, we have a responsibility to pay attention to the road and not fall victim to distractions, not only for our own safety, but for the safety of other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Take the initiative this April and learn how to be a safer driver by minimizing distractions.
At Grange Insurance Association, we care about the safety of the communities we serve. Talk with your Grange Insurance Association agent about finding an auto insurance policy that meets your family’s needs while on the road. For more insurance topics, stay tuned to our blog.
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