One Text or Call Could Wreck it All

With the increasing demands on our personal and professional time we are all looking for a way to do it all. Multitasking seems to be the answer in so many cases. But it should never be an option when operating a vehicle. One of the most alarming and widespread forms of distracted driving from teens to the retired is cell phone use. Add distraction with the increased traffic and larger vehicles on our roadways and you have a formula for tragedy.

Texting is a great concern because it combines three types of distraction – VISUAL – MANUAL – COGNITIVE. In other words, texting involves taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off the task of driving. At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving according to National Occupant Protection Use Surveys done by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The National Safety Council found that people talking or texting cause more than 25% off all vehicle crashes. As of December 2012, 171.3 billion texts were sent each month according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

Remember distractions are also eating, conversations with passengers, putting on make-up or fixing your hair, reading, looking at maps, fiddling with the radio, managing kids in the backseat or any other action that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off the task of driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the State of Montana & the Richland County Injury Prevention Team are reminding all drivers “ONE TEXT OR CALL COULD WRECK IT ALL”. What are the 5 most important things in your life ~ family, job, material object, activities…? What could you lose by using your cell phone while driving? How would it affect your life and the lives of those you love and care about if you were in or caused a crash?

So the next time you are pressed for time, and it seems like multitasking in the car is the best decision, remember those who have lost their lives or loved ones because someone thought they could do two things at once. Make the commitment to drive UNDISTRACTED.

Montana Office of Instruction reported on the 2013 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey 61.3% of teens talked on a cell phone and 55.8% texted while driving. Parents don’t just tell young drivers “Do not use your cell phone while driving” but also tell young drivers “Do not call or text your friends when you know they are driving”. Be good role models while driving and teaching your young drivers. Young drivers value their phones. Demonstrate alternatives to cell phone use: Park the phone, Drive the car. Designate a texter. Download an app.

Employers, develop policies that not only keep your employees safe on the roadways but the community as well. The Richland County Injury Prevention Team can assist with policy writing and also come to your safety meetings to provide awareness and information on “Safe Driving”.

For more information or resources contact the Richland County Injury Prevention Team or Mary Sundheim, Injury Prevention Specialist at the Richland County Health Department 406-433-2207.


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