Recently, I told you about growing up in the country. It took half an hour of country roads to get to school every day. There would be times that I would arrive without even realizing I had driven. No passengers, no electronics, no outside distractions. It was just me, the car, the radio and the road. I was focused but I had driven the route so many times, my brain and body went on auto-pilot. They called it road hypnosis.
That pales in comparison to what happens these days – with distractions throughout the vehicle, from noisy kids to the driver juggling electronics. When we’re driving our kids know our rules – no ruckus that would distract the driver, no blocking the mirrors or windows and if the driver’s phone has a text or alert, one of the kids is responsible for checking it. As a mom, sharing that there are multiple ways that teenagers AND ADULTS can be distracted is extremely important. Discussing ways to avoid the distractions; to stop and focus on the road… Just as important.
Whenever there is a story of an auto incident, I always wonder if it was avoidable and caused by electronics. You know, that’s the difference between a “crash” and an “accident” – crashes are caused by distracted, intoxicated, speeding or careless drivers. Accidents are…accidents. My parents’ teenage neighbor boy was involved in a traffic incident earlier this year where a car driven by a teenage girl crossed into oncoming traffic in front of him. His truck and the car traveling in the lane next to him both struck her vehicle. It was so bad, his truck was totaled. That was replaceable. Her life was not. When I was told about the accident, my first question was whether she was distracted. Investigators subpoenaed phone records and ruled out electronics. Research also showed speed and road conditions weren’t a factor. They specifically said it was not caused by distracted driving. Not that it makes it any less horrible but the fact that it wasn’t caused by something totally avoidable does make a difference.
Can you imagine how it must feel to be in a profession that constantly sees the result of avoidable injuries and deaths? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the nearly 33,000 roadway fatalities in 2012, there were 3,328 fatalities and approximately 421,000 injuries in distracted driving-related crashes. Orthopaedic surgeons are the ones who put the limbs and bones back together after road crashes and traumas. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Auto Alliance want to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving. The focus of the Decide to Drive program is to empower people – drivers and passengers alike – to speak up about distracted driving in an effort to reduce distracted behaviors behind the wheel. “The most advanced safety feature of any vehicle is the driver” but even this sophisticated safety feature only works if the eyes are on the road and the hands are on the wheel.
Injuries and loss of lives can be prevented by eliminating the distractions. Decide to drive.
Visit the Decide to Drive Facebook page for more information.
What is your biggest distraction when driving?