Phone Down; Eyes Up: Distracted Driving Statistics Update & Driver Challenge

Jacy Good's sign on back asking drivers to put the phone down (3) Making an Impact

Last March, I wrote the first of several posts that would become some of my most important articles to date. These posts were on distracted driving. Since that time, these articles have been read 100s of times and continue to be read on a daily basis.

The distracted driving posts spurred discussion on my site, on Facebook and Twitter and in conversations I had with people who had read them. I have been told many times "I was going to make {or answer} a phone call while I was driving, but then I remembered your article, and I stopped." That means the world to me to know that something I've written has helped to serve as a reminder, making a positive change.

Distracted Driving by the Numbers

I have just spent the last several weeks preparing for the Distracted Driving Forum in New York by reading about and studying the statistics for distracted driving again. The number of deaths is astounding. The lack of laws concerning using cell phones and texting while driving is surprising. Here are the numbers:

  • 5,500 people in the U.S. were killed & almost half a million injured by distracted driving (2009);
  • 18% of these fatalities were caused by cell phone usage;
  • 8 States have laws prohibiting all drivers from using handheld phones while driving;
  • 30 states have laws banning texting while driving;
  • 11 state laws were enacted in 2010; and
  • 0 is the number of states with laws prohibiting all cell phone use (handheld or hands-free) while driving.

The Key to Change

A Consumer Reports Survey indicates that awareness, education and reminders regarding the hazards of distracted driving do help lower the number of drivers who use their cell phones or engage in other distracting behavior while driving.

The key is to talk about this issue with friends and family; young and old alike. Don't be afraid to take away the phone of the person driving if you are a passenger and the driver won't stop using his or her cell phone for calls or texting. Peer pressure does work; at all ages.

Role Models

Children make good reminders. I have talked about distracted driving and the use of cell phones while driving quite a bit with my Darling Boys. Darling 1 now likes to remind us when we are leaving the house, "Remember no talking or texting while you're driving!" Or while in the car, if the phone rings, "Don't answer the phone unless you pull over!"

It's a great help when your young children are repeating the words of safety that you taught them. We all want to be good role models for our kids. Our actions speak louder than words. DH & I no longer use our phones in the car unless we are sitting in a parking lot or in our driveway, before or after driving to our destinations.

The Challenge

I challenge you to do the same. Put down your phone while driving; put it in your purse or in the glove box or in your pocket. Just make sure it's not accessible to you while you're driving. And talk to your kids about it. Explain the dangers of distracted driving.

My hope is that by providing awareness of this issue at a very young age, driving without distractions will become second nature to our little ones as they grow into teenagers and begin driving. Using phones while driving can stop with the next generation just as using seatbelts became 2nd nature to those of us in our 30s and 40s who can remember stretching out in the back seat or floor board sleeping with our heads on our parents laps while driving cross country. This seems absurd now. None of us would ever even consider letting our kids "loose" in our cars now, but less than 30 years ago we were "loose" in our parents' vehicles.

Distracted Driving Resources

Here are more resources for educating yourself, your families and absolute strangers:

U.S. Department of Transportation's site dedicated to distracted driving:

Consumer Reports also has dedicated a page distracted driving, with an emphasis on teens, but parents need to hear it too

State ell Phones and Texting Laws; find your state's laws

Focus Driven also offers sobering information from the stand point of those who lost a loved one or they themselves suffered an injury from distracted driving.

The Scoop

For this campaign to work, it must start with the parents. Please join me in putting the phone down and keeping your eyes on the road. If you are willing to make this change, leave a comment or just your first name, pledging that you too will stop using your phone while driving. And then go tell your kids that you pledged to put the phone down and keep your eyes up. They'll be impressed, and they won't forget.

Tomorrow I will be writing about Ford's SYNC voice command system and a few other products. These systems are intended to make driving less distracting by providing hands-free devices that still enable the driver to stay connected while on the road. But are these products safer or not? Over and out...


You might also like:

The Distracted Parent: Must Read Tips and Websites for Staying Focused and Driving Safely

Driving to Distraction Part II: Why Using Your Cell Phone While Driving is as Dangerous as Driving Drunk

Old Habits Die Hard: Must Read Tips and Web Sites to Help Break the Habit of Texting While Driving

Driving to Distraction: The Hazards of Texting While Driving and the Laws Restricting This Habit


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