You and Your Health
More People Are Texting and Driving
Photo: More People Are Texting and Driving
Young drivers are most at risk of having an accident as a result of using a mobile phone
Distracted driving is a dangerous and common practice —and it’s becoming an even bigger problem on the nation’s roads as more drivers are text messaging while driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the percentage of drivers who text messaged or manipulated their mobile devices while driving went up significantly, from 0.6 percent in 2009 to 0.9 percent to 2010. The latest federal figures show more than 3,000 people died in car accidents in 2010 because of drivers who were texting, using a phone or were distracted by something else.
Texting and Driving Can Be a Lethal Combination
Distractions behind the wheel include eating, talking to other passengers, or changing the radio, but there is one that is especially dangerous: reading or writing text messages. Doing this increases the risk of an accident by 2,300 percent.
But you don’t have to be typing away to be at risk of having or causing an accident:
* Drivers who use mobile devices are four times more likely to have an accident and injure themselves or others.
* Using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent, the legal limit in most states.
* Using a cell phone can reduce the brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.
Tips for Changing Your Habits
Habits can be hard to break, but these tips can help you get started:
* Turn off your phone before driving away, or store it somewhere where you can’t reach it.
* If you have an urgent call you need to attend, find a safe place to park before using your phone.
* Ask another passenger to answer your calls or messages.
* Designate a copilot that can help you use other electronics in the car such as your navigation system or the radio.
How to Talk to Your Teens
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. In fact, 16 percent of young drivers involved in fatal accidents were driving distracted.
There are several things parents or guardians can do to help reduce the risk of distracted driving in the family. First, set the example by refusing to drive distracted. In addition, you should:
* Talk to your children about the dangers of distracted driving.
* Make a commitment that no family member will drive and use mobile devices at the same time.
* Establish consequences for not following the rules.
* Speak up if the driver of the vehicle is using a cell phone.
* Take the time to get to know your state’s cell phone laws and share them with your children.