Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds can be deadly. Spartanburg Medical Center’s trauma team sees firsthand that driver distractions are at an all-time high. Each year more than 1 million motor vehicle crashes involve cell phone use. Texting and driving can be 18 times more dangerous than drinking and driving. Spartanburg Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center wants you to be safe on the road. Whether you are planning a road trip or will be in everyday traffic driving to work, take time to review these driving safety tips. Prevention and planning can reduce the risks associated with distracted driving, and save lives.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that could take a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD or MP3 player
Because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Driving is a serious responsibility and requires your full attention at all times. Below are some alarming statistics:
- In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
- Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while sending or receiving a text. When traveling at 55 mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (VTTI)
- Drivers who use hand-held devices while driving are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves or others. (Monash University)
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of deaths among teenagers in the U.S. (CDC)
- Text messaging makes a crash up to 23 times more likely to occur.
- 28 percent of all crashes each year involve cell phone use. (NSC)
- The No. 1 source of driver inattention is the use of a wireless device.
- Texting and driving can be 18 times more dangerous than drinking and driving. (Car and Driver)
- 49 percent of adults say they have texted while driving.
Distracted Driving Prevention
Distracted driving kills and injures thousands of people each year. Most distractions are within our control. Learn how to avoid being distracted while driving and reduce your risk of severe injury or death or from taking the life of someone else on the road.
- Take a pledge to drive text-free. The fight to end distracted driving starts with you. Make the commitment to drive phone-free today.
- Don’t use a cell phone while driving, except in emergencies. Do not use text messaging, email, games or Internet, including those built into the vehicle.
- To avoid temptation, power down and store devices.
- Download a safe driving app onto your mobile device. Research the various applications offered by your cell phone provider or through your mobile app store.
- Be prepared and organized before the trip – adjust seats, mirrors and have directions ready.
- Finish dressing and personal grooming before you get on the road.
- If there is a distraction that needs your immediate attention, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place.
- If possible, eat meals or snacks before or after driving, not while. On the road, avoid messy foods that are difficult to manage.
- Remember to follow the law. As of 2014, it is illegal in South Carolina to text and drive.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Americans love to enjoy the warm summer days and celebrate holidays with family, friends, food and fun. But, all too often, the festivities can turn tragic on the nation's roads. In fact, the July 4th holiday is one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to drunk-driving crashes.
During the July 4th holiday period, over the last five years (from 2008 to 2012), 765 people lost their lives in crashes involving drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more. These fatalities account for 40 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities over this same five-year period. (NHTSA)
Drunk Driving Statistics
- Drunk driving is often a symptom of a larger problem: alcohol misuse and abuse.
- Alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes cost more than an estimated $37 billion annually.
- In 2012, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes - one every 51 minutes. That is equivalent to 20 jumbo jets crashing each year.
- Approximately 1 in 5 child (12 and younger) passenger fatalities involved drunk driving. 71 percent of the time, it was the driver of the child’s vehicle who was impaired.
- Younger drivers 18 to 34 years old are consistently overrepresented in fatal alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. In 2013, almost half (45 percent) of the young drivers killed in crashes had blood alcohol contents of .08 g/dL or higher.
Drunk drivers kill more than just themselves. More than a third of those killed in alcohol-involved crashes are not the impaired drivers. In 2011:
- 1,612 were passengers of drunk drivers.
- 1,049 were occupants in other vehicles.
- 710 were pedestrians or bicyclists.
- 91 were child passengers of the drunk drivers.
Drunk Driving Prevention
- Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
- If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.
- Use you community’s sober ride program.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement.
- Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.