Take the pledge to stop distracted driving

Distraction comes in many forms.

In the car, it could mean taking your eyes off the road to change the radio station, taking your hands off the wheel to eat a snack, or losing your focus because you’re talking to a passenger.

From eating, drinking, and personal grooming to using a GPS and talking or texting on a cell phone, there’s no limit to the possible distractions while driving. And each one puts the driver, passengers, and others on the road at risk.

Hand held or hands free: A cell phone is distracting

Perhaps the most serious of these distractions is cell phone use. At any given time during the day, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That time on the phone — whether talking or texting — is dangerous:

    •  Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds —
       equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
    •  Sending a text makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash.
    •  Using a cell phone while driving delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol
       concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.

    •  Using a hand-held device while driving makes a driver four times more likely to get in a serious crash.
    •  Talking on a hands-free cell phone still takes focus away from the road, causing a driver to miss
       important visual cues.

Improve your safety on the road

To limit the temptation to use your phone, turn it off and place it out of reach when you get in the car. If you use the radio or a GPS, set it before you start driving so you won’t need to adjust it later. Avoid eating or drinking while driving.

If you’re a passenger and notice the driver engaging in risky behaviors, speak up. Ask them to focus on driving, for their safety and your own.

Take the pledge to stop distracted driving, and encourage others to do the same.

Statistics from www.distraction.gov and www.nhtsa.gov.