A car swerves into an busy intersection, nearly missing a pedestrian. The adrenaline is still surging as you think about what you almost witnessed. The pedestrian is seated on the sidewalk, catching his breath. One moment he was walking to work, the next he was scrambling to get out of the way of a speeding car. How could any driver be so reckless? You know you would never be. Would you?
Have you ever leaned over while driving to grab something out of the passenger seat? Have you surfed all the radio stations to find the perfect song on your way to work? Maybe your drive is the perfect time to touch up your hair or makeup on your way to meet friends for dinner. If so, you just found yourself guilty of distracted driving. Welcome to the Club – it’s a big one.
There’s been a “buzz” about distracted driving for several years now, and thanks to a variety of organizations, the dangers of drunk driving are also widely known. However, as technology progresses, new perils arise. Now, the dangers of texting while driving, and the use of social media behind the wheel, is a growing concern for parents of teen drivers, as well as the general public with which they share the road. While measures are being taken to prevent tragedies resulting from distracted driving, common sense is still the greatest weapon we have in circumventing dangerous roadway conditions.
Is the hype of texting while driving really as bad as it seems? Is the media blowing the bad habit out of proportion? In this article, BriteBee shares some statistics related to distracted driving and how you can be the change in this driving-trend that remains a continuous battle on the open road.
It’s Time to Face the Facts
You may think the rules don’t apply to you – but you’re wrong. Mistakes happen, and no one is an exception.
First, let’s take a look at the statistics:
- According to the US Department of Transportation there were 37,461 fatalities caused by car accidents in 2016.
- Of those fatalities 9,477 were caused by alcohol-impaired driving.
- 3,450 of the fatalities were caused by distracted driving.
- In 2015, the CDC reported traffic accidents as the leading cause of death for young adults between the ages of 16-23.
- The Road to Zero reports that over 94 percent of all serious traffic accidents are caused by human error and could be prevented.
In light of these statistics, distracted driving may seem like a relatively small cause of vehicular related deaths. However, what we must keep in mind is that all 3,450 (or more) or these deaths could have been AVOIDABLE. How can we prevent these tragic and unnecessary accidents that are contributing to nearly 10% teen auto-related deaths?
If you are the parent of a teen, or a teen yourself, those numbers should frighten you. In the few seconds you move your eyes from the road to your phone, your vehicle travels hundreds of yards. Even though a quick glance may seem harmless, our split-second distraction still has the potential to do a lot of damage. The question every driver should ask themselves is, “Is it really worth it?”
Recognize the Consequences
What could be worse than making a driving mistake that ruins your life? Making a mistake that ruins someone else’s.
Perhaps the only thing more tragic than being involved in an auto-related accident would be the lives you affect forever by causing such an accident. Regardless of fatality, the consequences for both parties involved would most likely be life-altering. According the statistics listed above, 562 of the people killed in distracted driving accidents weren’t even driving, but rather pedestrians or cyclists. The CDC also reports that, in 2015 alone, 391,000 auto-injuries reported were related to distracted-driving.
If you’ve been involved in a distracted driving incident in the past and no serious injuries were reported, consider yourself extremely lucky. However, if the thought of it happening again to you or someone you love doesn’t scare you, the increase to your auto insurance rate might. When speaking to an insurance expert, we were told that finding a local agent to discuss liability coverage is extremely important. Should a driver be found guilty of distracted driving, it is important they know what they are and are not covered for. While most states require drivers to have liability coverage, individual policies will vary. Many policies have a liability limit, which means if the damage you caused is over a set amount of dollars, you must pay out of pocket to cover the rest of the damage out of pocket. Yikes!
Above all, be aware that texting while driving is ILLEGAL in Oklahoma. According to ODOT, if pulled over for texting while driving, you could be charged as little as $100. (That’s cheap compared to the tickets and fines that would happen if you were to cause an accident!)
Make a Decision. Be the Change.
The bottom line is: just don’t do it. It’s not worth it and never has been. Even while using Siri or another hands-free device, any use of your cell phone could still be grounds for distracted driving. It can wait.
Ready to be proactive? Here are some ways you can take action now.
- Explain to your teen what your expectations are for safe driving. Appeal to their emotions. Let them know how horrific it would be to find out they were in an accident. Never miss an opportunity to let them know how much you love them and care about their safety
- Some insurance companies offer discounts for safe driving, which can be monitored via a dashboard camera. It’s not a bad idea for parents who want to get a true portrait of your teen’s driving habits whenever they’re not under your watchful eye. It’s important that you emphasize that this is NOT an invasion of their privacy, but a win-win-win situation. The teen is earning a discount, staying safe, and building trust with the parent. The parent is saving money and gaining peace of mind, and the insurance agent is not paying for damage to a car (or worse) due to negligent driving.
- Consider taking a no texting pledge. The whole family can get in on this one. Often times children will follow behaviors modeled by their parent, so don’t let them catch YOU taking a peek at your phone every time you’re at a traffic signal.
While it would be easy to throw tech companies under the bus on this one, it is important to note that there are quite a few stepping up to help curtail the problem of distracted driving. Check out this list of recommended apps from Verizon. Safe driving is something everyone can get behind!
If you need help finding a local car insurance agent, consider starting your search with BriteBee. BriteBee specializes in putting the customer first by connecting them with local agents that can best suit their needs without ever selling their personal information. Create one user profile and begin communicating with agents via a friendly and secure network – all 100% spam-free and hassle-free! For more information, visit us online at BriteBee.com.
ABOUT EMILY KELLEY
“Hello, I’m Emily Kelley! I am a wife to a high school teacher and soccer coach, and mommy to a rambunctious 2 1/2 year old little boy. I am certified to teach Art and English in the state of Oklahoma, but I’m taking a break to raise my little and work at my church’s Mother’s Day Out program. I love kids and all the messy, chaotic, creativity that they bring to the table. I love to teach and learn!”