(West Union OH) With the ever increasing demands on our personal and professional time in today’s busy society, learning to juggle multiple tasks at once is something we all face daily. As a result, one particular traffic safety epidemic has emerged on America’s roadways that demands immediate attention: distracted driving. Distracted driving includes any distraction that takes your eyes off of the road. Text messaging, in particular, is of heightened concern because it combines three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive. In other words, texting involves taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off the task of driving.
In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. One of the most alarming and widespread forms of distracted driving is cell phone usage. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving blind at 55-mph for the length of an entire football field. And a 2014 special article in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones.
“Driving and texting is illegal and irresponsible. People who break our State’s texting law will be stopped and fined. If you drive and text, you will pay,” said Lt. Randy McElfresh, Post Commander- Ohio State Patrol Georgetown. “For those who say that driving and texting is an epidemic, we believe enforcement of our state texting law is part of the cure.”
To tackle this ever-increasing problem, Adams County Safe Communities and one of its Coalition partners, GE-Peebles Test Operation are focusing on ways to change the behavior of drivers through public awareness and education. At the entrance to the Peebles Testing Operation, the car and banners pictured here for the past month were a reminder to all staff and visitors at least twice a day, as they entered and left the worksite. In addition to the 400+ employees, an additional 100+ people from all over the world, including from the countries of France, China, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico & Brazil, received this eye opening message during the recent distracted driving display.
Texting and driving is a hot topic, particularly with teen/youthful drivers. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute’s 2012 “Teen Driver Distraction Study” reports that a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.
“Texting and driving requires drivers to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, and their mind off the task of driving. It creates the proverbial ‘perfect storm’ for a crash, and no one has the right to put another person’s life at risk like that,” said Debbie Ryan, Coordinator, Adams County Safe Communities Program.
So the next time you are pressed for time, and it seems like multitasking in the car is the best decision, remember those 3,154 lives that were taken because someone decided they could do two things at once. A text or call is not worth your life, or anyone else’s.
The Adams County Safe Communities Program Coalition emphatically discourages distracted driving, and hopes drivers get the message loud and clear. The car and banners pictured here are now on display at the Adams County Fair.