Distracted driving contributes to up to 8,000 crashes every single day – the facts speak for themselves:
- More than one million people have died in car crashes over the past 25 years in the U.S., with 33,788 lives lost in 2010 alone.
- Drivers spend more than half their time behind the wheel engaged in distracted behavior.
- Using a cell phone while driving quadruples your risk of crashing.
- Eating, smoking, adjusting music or rubbernecking while driving can be just as dangerous as texting, emailing or talking on a cell phone.
- Passengers are one of the most frequently reported causes of distraction, with young children being four times more distracting than adults and infants being eight times more distracting.
A majority of drivers – 94% – agree that texting or emailing while driving is unacceptable and 87% support laws against reading, typing or sending text messages or emails while driving, according to the AAA Foundation’s 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index, yet more than one-third of drivers reported texting or emailing while driving in the previous month. This “do as I say, not as I do” attitude is one of the greatest obstacles preventing us from improving safety on our roads.
Tips to Being a Heads Up Driver:
- PLAN AHEAD. Read maps and check traffic conditions before you get on the road.
- STOW ELECTRONIC DEVICES.Turn off your phone before you drive so you won’t be tempted to use it while on the road. Pull over to a safe place to talk on the phone or to send and receive text messages or emails.
- PREPARE KIDS AND PETS FOR THE TRIP.Get the kids safely buckled in and situated with snacks and entertainment before you start driving. If they need additional attention during the trip, pull off the road safely to care for them. Similarly, prepare and secure pets appropriately in your vehicle before getting underway.
- SATISFY THAT CRAVING OFF THE ROAD. Eat meals and snacks before getting behind the wheel, or stop to eat and take a break if driving long-distance.
- STORE LOOSE GEAR AND POSSESSIONS.Stash away loose objects that could roll around and take your attention away from driving.
- GET YOUR VEHICLE ROAD-READY.Adjust seat positions, climate controls, sound systems and other devices before you leave or while your vehicle is stopped.Make sure your headlights are spotless so you can see everything on the road and every other driver can see you better. Keep your windshield clean and remove dangling objects that could block your view.
- DRESS FOR SUCCESS – BEFORE YOU GET IN THE CAR.Your car isn’t a dressing room. Brush your hair, shave, put on make-up, and tie your necktie before you leave or once you reach your destination.
- GET YOUR BRAIN IN THE GAME.Focus on the task at hand – driving safely. Scan the road, use mirrors and practice identifying orally what you just saw to enhance your engagement as a driver. Keeping your head ‘in the game’ behind the wheel will help you improve your overall awareness and behavior as a driver. AAA offers classroom and online defensive driving courses that directly address distracted driving and offer tips for for avoiding these behaviors.
- EVALUATE YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR FROM THE ‘OTHER’ SIDE OF THE ROAD.When you’re on the road as a passenger or a pedestrian, take a look around and honestly evaluate whether you engage in poor driving behaviors that worry you when observed in other passengers or pedestrians.
- USE NEW TECHNolOGY TO MAKE YOU A BETTER DRIVER.Sharpen your ability to respond quickly to risks on the road. The AAA Foundation recommends all drivers improve their reaction times and managing attention on the road by using DriveSharp, a computer program proven to improve reaction time and stopping distances. With quicker responses, you can avoid the distracted driver who might end up in your lane.