Pushing Your Luck

It’s a tale as old as time. We see or hear of something bad happening to someone else, and think to ourselves that it could never happen to us. Lung cancer? No, I don’t smoke and I exercise. Drunk driving accident? Not me. I don’t drink enough to get more than a buzz. Killing a pedestrian or your own loved one due to distracted driving? Not going to happen. I can talk, text, wipe up spills, and pull my hair into a ponytail while driving. I’m a brilliant multi-tasker, and am quite capable of seeing what’s going on around me while I drive.

If you’re reading this article and you’ve ever talked or typed on your cell phone while driving, but wouldn’t think of putting on makeup, shaving your face, or composing an email while behind the wheel, you may believe that you’re a safe, responsible driver. Would it surprise you to learn that while ANY distracted driving drastically increases your chances of getting into an accident, texting is one of the most dangerous? According to the US Department of Transportation’s facts and statistics, any non-driving activity a person engages in has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.

There are three main types of distraction:

Visual – taking your eyes off the road

Manual – taking your hands off the wheel

Cognitive – taking your mind off what you’re doing.

Texting requires all three types of distraction. Rather than throw a handful of statistics at my readers such as: an estimated 20 percent of 1,517,000 injury crashes were reported to have involved distracted driving in 2009, I’ll send you to this website: http://www.distraction.gov/stats-and-facts/ for an interesting compilation of information. And instead of more statistics, I’ll leave you with a few stories on video that are harrowing enough to make me put my cell phone in my glove compartment every time I get into the car, because I’m one of the people who usually thinks it’s not going to happen to them. And despite some very alarming statistics involving youngsters texting and driving, it’s not just teens who do it. I’m a parent of two teens who have both had to tell me to put my phone down while I drive. The following video was made as a public service announcement from AT&T and epitomizes the message that you’re really pushing your luck every time you push the buttons on your cell phone while you drive.