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October is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

It’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month! While usually observed in April, the National Safety Council (NSC) moved Distracted Driving Awareness Month to October this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Ostego County distracted driving accident attorneys explain the most common distractions for motorists and what you can do to avoid texting and driving and other dangerous behavior behind the wheel.

What Makes Distracted Driving So Dangerous?

According to the NSC, over 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes every day in the U.S. In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collected data that showed distracted driving caused or contributed to 8% of fatal traffic crashes, 15% of crash injuries, and 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle accidents that year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the dangers of distracted driving into perspective using the following scenario: Imagine you are driving at about 55 mph when you receive a text. If you look away from the road to read it or reply, your eyes are off the road for approximately five seconds. Driving for five seconds at 55 mph while looking at your phone is the equivalent of driving across an entire football field blind.

What Distracts Drivers?

The most prevalent—as well as the most dangerous—distraction for drivers in the United States is texting. Texting and driving is so risky because it involves all three types of distractions— cognitive, manual, and visual—occurring at once.

There are many major causes of distracted driving accidents, however, including:

  • Adjusting the controls in your vehicle
  • Daydreaming
  • Dealing with children and/or pets
  • Dropping an object and trying to pick it up
  • Eating or drinking
  • Having conversations with passengers or on a hands-free device
  • Looking at something happening outside your vehicle, like a wreck or nice view
  • Putting on makeup, fixing one’s hair, and other grooming
  • Smoking
  • Using a GPS or map app

What Can You Do to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents?

Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely. We must all do our part to remain focused and alert while behind the wheel to both protect ourselves and those around us every time we drive.

To best prevent crashes caused by distracted driving, here is what you can do:

  • Take care of phone calls, text messages, meals, grooming, setting up your GPS, and anything else that could potentially distract you before getting in your car.
    • Alternatively, you can save these activities for after you reach your destination—just make sure you leave early enough to have the time to take care of everything!
  • If something comes up while you’re driving (an important phone call, for example) pull over and stop your vehicle before taking care of it.
  • Put your smartphone and other electronic devices away while driving to avoid being distracted by their lights, sounds, and notifications.
  • Act as a good role model for others, especially young drivers, and talk to your teens about driving responsibly.
  • If you are riding with someone who is using their phone or not paying attention to the road, speak up! Offer to make the call or change the radio station for them instead.
  • Stay focused and vigilant while driving. Actively scan the road, use your turn signals and mirrors, and be on the lookout for pedestrians, cyclists, and bikers at all times.

Have you been injured by a distracted driver in Oneonta? Contact our Ostego County distracted driving accident attorneys to discuss your options during a free consultation.

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