With the spring semester quickly wrapping up, many students will be hitting the highways traveling home, visiting friends and vacationing in new and familiar locations. Although fun and exciting for your student, it creates additional time spent behind the wheel or as a passenger in a vehicle.
The enormous growth in popularity of mobile devices, specifically PDA’s and cell phones, has created a culture of constant communication at our fingertips. This communication overload unfortunately does not always stop when students get behind the wheel. This leads to what we call “distracted driving” which is currently the leading cause of auto accidents.
Every day we witness drivers engaged in multi-tasking by texting, eating, talking, checking e-mails, surfing the Internet, or sometimes a combination. Distracted driving can encompass many different activities but all of them result in taking the driver’s attention away from the primary task of operating the vehicle. Distracted driving activities fall in one of three types: Visual – taking your eyes off the road; Manual – taking your hands off the wheel; Cognitive– taking your mind off driving.
Facts you should know about texting and distracted driving:
The majority of drivers between the ages of 18-24 admit to texting while driving.
Texting is the most dangerous of all distracted driving activities because it involves all three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive.
Drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every six seconds while texting.
At 55 miles per hour, this means the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road.
Drivers who text are more than 23 times likely to be involved in an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 500,000 people are injured and nearly 6,000 die annually in crashes involving a distracted driver.
Please take this opportunity to discuss these important facts with your student and stress to them the importance of practicing safe driving practices. The Office of Risk Management wishes each family and student a happy and safe summer.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. For additional information, go to Distracted Driving/National Highway Traffic Safety Association (http://www.distraction.gov)