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April Is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month-Are You Distracted?

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April has been named National Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council (NSC) to alert everyone across the nation that distracted driving is one of the most dangerous risks on the road. According to a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012, there were over 3, 300 deaths caused by distracted drivers and over 420, 000 injuries—a 9% increase from the previous year.

How Distracted Driving Affects Us

The numbers of people who are killed by distracted driving may not total to as many as those who are killed by drunk drivers. Yet, arguably, being in proximity of a distracted driver can be just as risky. Let’s say, for example, a driver who watches some activity that happening on the other side of the road. They become so absorbed by the activity that they don’t realize the distance between themselves and the car in front of them. Subsequently, that car gets rear-ended, causing an accident.

That is an example of a visual distraction that occurs by driving, which can and does happen more frequently. Now, though, there is a rise in “cognitive distraction,” as coined by the CDC, which means that something or other is reducing the driver’s ability to devote full attention to the road.

Cell Phone Usage Largest Cause Behind Driver Distraction

One of the main culprits behind cognitive distraction is cell phone usage. In this day and age, you won’t find a single person who does not own a cell phone. Some states have implemented laws banning cell phone usage while driving and enforcing heavy penalties should a driver be caught. This has helped curb the numbers somewhat for many states, but for Texas, there is no statewide cell phone ban, though some cities have them.

Even then, the law stipulates that drivers can still use cell phones, provided that they are using a hands-free device, such as a Bluetooth unit—yet there is no proof that this is any safer. According to the NSC, drivers can only see 50% of their surroundings, whether or not they are using a hands-free unit.

Legislators can do all they can to protect their citizens from harm, but perhaps this month, you could take it upon yourself to adopt better driving habits and think twice before answering that call while driving. It could help keep you and countless others safe!

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