Distracted Driving: More than Unsafe, It’s Illegal
Keeping your focus on the road can be easier said than done.
Many states now have laws against distracted driving that carry hefty repercussions! Read on to learn more about what distracted driving is and ways to avoid it.
If the national statistics regarding distracted driving-related deaths don’t scare you (reaching over 3,400 deaths a year, and increasing), the number of police reports indicating distraction as the leading cause of over 400,000 accidents a year should.
The odds are stacked: One in four car accidents in the United States are caused by texting while driving; an accident that is 6 times more likely than an accident involving a drunk driver.
As a society, we emphasize through legislative recommendations, community outreach programs and the implementation of law how potent drunk driving has become. However, distracted driving is proving to be exponentially more dangerous.
In some states, not only are you breaking the law when you drive distracted, but you could become a statistic yourself.
Distracted driving isn’t just texting!
While we find that texting while driving is the most common form of distracted driving, there are plenty of other distractions that pull your focus away from the road.
- Fiddling with the radio
- Programming your GPS
- Applying makeup or shaving
- Drinking and eating
- Facetiming/phone calls (even with hands-free devices!)
- Conversations with passengers (and using your hands)
- Monitoring your children
- Keeping a watchful eye on your pet
- Innocent road trip games
While these are just a few of the common distractions you might be guilty of performing while driving, there are plenty that are unique to you and those you are traveling with.
Tips to avoid distracted driving
Keeping your focus on the road can be easier said than done. Here are some things you can do to avoid this common problem:
- Turn off your cell phone - or enable silent mode, even if you're expecting an important business call. And remember: Hands-free isn’t risk free!
- Avoid passenger distractions - when driving with children or pets, make sure the kids are strapped into their seat and pets are settled into carriers before starting the car. If they need your attention during the drive, pull over before handling the situation.
- Eat before or after you arrive to your destination - food spills are a main cause of distraction. Eat in a restaurant, find a rest stop along your route, or locate a safe location to park your vehicle and enjoy your snack.
- Organize your ride before leaving - program the GPS, your music, make sure your toll money is readily available, and your drink is secured in the cup holder before you leave the driveway. If you are traveling with a passenger of age, allow them to co-pilot the trip; this can aid in lessening the chances of your eyes coming off the road.
Distracted Driving Laws in Your State
To combat this growing epidemic, many states across the country have implemented laws targeting distracted driving habits. Below is a simplified list of ways you could be breaking the law!
- It is illegal to text and drive in Massachusetts.
- The state also PROHIBITS anyone under 18 years old from using any type of mobile device while driving.
Any use of a hand-held mobile device while driving is illegal in New Hampshire.
- Drivers younger than 18 years old CANNOT use cell phones while driving (including hands-free devices).
- New Jersey prohibits any use (texting OR talking) of a hand-held mobile device while driving.
- Additionally, drivers with any version of a graduated driver's license MAY NOT use a cellular device in any way (including hands-free interactions).
It's against the law to use a hand-held mobile device (texting AND talking) while driving in New York.
When just reading a text, your eyes come off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 MPH, that’s the length of a football field. Catastrophe can happen just like that. Keep your eyes on the road. Keep your mind on driving. And keep your hands on the wheel, because one distraction can steal your reaction.
This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice and/or an authoritative guide.