Driving has become increasingly more dangerous with the advent of text messaging and mp3 players. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that car accidents kill 40,000 Americans and account for millions of injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving contributed to 16 percent of all traffic accidents. Distracted driving has become such a prevalent issue, it has lead to a ban on the use of cell phones while driving many states and the District of Columbia.
However, a number of factors – beyond the use of cell phones – contribute to distracted driving. To curb this disturbing trend, the NHTSA identifies five things you should not do while driving.
- Driving drowsy – known as the silent killer, more than 100,000 accidents are caused by people who fall asleep at the wheel, according to the NHTSA. Experts recommend that you pull over to the side of the road or into a parking area and take a nap if you are sleepy.
- Drinking and driving – “Don’t drink and drive” is a national safety mantra, and has lead to sweeping changes in how driving under the influence (DUI) is punished. Alcohol impairs your ability to make sudden decisions and thus makes you a danger on the road. Depending on your size and weight, just one drink can impair your ability to drive.
- Using mobile devices – using a cell phone behind the wheel can be dangerous because it diverts your attention from the road in front of you. Texting is especially treacherous. A NHTSA study found that drivers who text while driving are four times more likely to be in an accident than drivers who do not. A study by the University of North Texas found that texting was responsible for more than 16,000 deaths from 2001 to 2007.
- Multitasking – this skill may be indispensable in the workplace, but it is a potential liability behind the wheel. It reduces your reaction time and your ability to anticipate hazards. Having a snack, applying make-up or checking a map can wait until you come to a complete stop.
- Road Rage – letting your emotions get the best of you can be just as dangerous as any of the other actions discussed. Angered driving may cause you to take unnecessary risks and use your vehicle as an extension of your frustration. Aggressive driving does not help with your mood or help you get to your destination quicker.
By following these tips, you increase the likelihood of having a safe driving experience. If you have been in an auto accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your rights and options.