Don’t Lose Your Way While Driving Distracted

At any given daylight moment 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices, according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey. There were 3,179 people killed and 431,000 injured in crashes in 2014 involving distracted drivers.

Research shows drivers do all sorts of risky things behind the wheel including brushing teeth and changing clothes! In a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute a third of drivers admitted to texting while driving, and three-quarters said they’ve seen others do it. Seventy-one percent of young people say they’ve sent a text while driving.

Your eyes are off the road an average of five seconds while texting. At 55 mph that’s like covering the length of a football field blindfolded. A split second of inattention can be fatal—even talking on hands-free devices should be avoided.

And not just driving: according to Pew research, more than half of all adult cellphone owners have experienced a distracted walking encounter.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (distraction.gov) has more.

Work is a Special Zone

Many employers—with fleets, trucks, business travel or long commutes—have employee policies that forbid using any hand-held phone while operating a vehicle.

Highway work zones also pose high risks for anyone not watching what they’re doing. Drivers are twice as likely as workers to be hurt in a work zone accident (www.dot.state.oh.us/workzoneaware).

Know the Law

Ohio bans drivers from texting, with secondary enforcement for adults (officers need another reason to stop and cite, such as weaving or speeding). For drivers younger than 18, however, texting and the use of cell phones are primary offenses. See dmv.com/oh/ohio/distracted-driving-laws.

Some Northeast Ohio communities make texting subject to primary enforcement, and many have outlawed handheld cell phone use for all drivers.