Distracted driving is dangerous[MIGRATE]

By Sgt. Christopher Duncan | April 10, 2013

News Brief

News Brief (Photo by Ramon E. De La O Sr.)

April is distracted driving awareness month and to ensure the safety of the vehicle operators and pedestrians on base a newsletter has been released by the safety branch here to create awareness of the different types of distractions drivers face while on the road.

The newsletter defines distracted driving as any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.

These types of distractions include:
• Texting
• Using a cell phone or smartphone
• Eating and drinking
• Talking to passengers
• Grooming
• Reading, including maps
• Using a navigation system
• Watching a video
• Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Text messaging is a common cause of vehicle accidents because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

“If you text for four seconds at 55 miles per hour you just drove blind for 100 yards,” said Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, the base commanding general and regional authority for five military installations in the southwestern United States.

Safety listed a few facts in their newsletter that that may be shocking to some.
• In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.
• 18% of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
• In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009.
• 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
• 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.
• Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injury.
• Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
• Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
• Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.

To read the newsletter visit the Base Safety Center’s website at Distracted Driving Newsletter - April 2013.