Have you ever eaten fast food, talked on your cell phone, blared the radio or CD player, shaved, put on makeup, lit a cigarette, combed your hair, dealt with a screaming child in the backseat, picked something up off the floor, rode with a pet on your lap or read directions while driving? If so, you are guilty of inattentive driving.
Crashes due to driver inattention or distraction are on the rise in the United States. They are taking more lives and injuring more people than ever before. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 25 percent of all police-reported crashes involve some form of driver inattention.
Driver distraction is nothing new. More than 70 years ago, lawmakers pondered whether radios should be allowed in cars. Some states banned them; others decided radios were tolerable as long as they were turned off while driving. Today, some of the biggest distractions include radios, cell phones, fast food, CD and media players, children and pets.
The Issue in the Kansas City Region
During 2002 in the state of Kansas, more than 40 percent of all traffic crashes involved drivers failing to give full attention to the road, and 16 of the top 20 contributing circumstances involved the driver rather than conditions of the roadway or the environment.
New technologies are increasing the problem of inattentive driving in the region. Cell phones, CD players, DVD players and computers are portable and initiate new questions about what should be used while driving a motor vehicle.
What You Can Do
- Before you drive, remove or secure any loose articles (cans, bottles, books) that could roll around or fly toward you in the event of a quick stop.
- Remember, driving may be the only break you get from the everyday life. Why complicate your life by multitasking while driving? Slow down, stay alert and enjoy your drive.
- Don’t talk on a cell phone while driving. If absolutely necessary, use a hands-free device or pull over in a well-lit area to continue the conversation. Some states are restricting the use of cell phones while driving to only hands-free devices and emergency instances.
- Limit your changing of radio stations and CDs. It only takes a brief moment for your eyes to be off the road to cause a collision.
- Although entertainment devices such DVD players and electronic games can be enjoyed by passengers in the vehicle, as a driver, do not become distracted by these devices. Lower their volumes, and never try to watch these devices or tinker with them while driving.
- Don’t light a cigarette while driving. If you drop it, look out!
- Eating and drinking beverages while driving can be dangerous. Simply stop and eat at a restaurant or rest area. If you spill a drink, pull over to clean up the mess. Driving while trying to clean coffee off your pants can be a deadly combination.
- You have a responsibility to operate your vehicle in a safe manner. Do it!
- Always buckle up.