Are You Guilty of Driving Distracted?
People are driving more distracted these days than ever before. Are you one of them? If you frequently find yourself talking on the phone while driving—or heaven forbid, texting—you may be part of a growing problem: fatal crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
We’ve all seen the signs. People driving erratically seem to be everywhere these days. They’re going too slow or too fast, weaving in and out of lanes, missing stop signs, or worse. You see them looking down instead of paying attention to the traffic in front of them. Distracted drivers and outright bad drivers have always been with us. But things really are getting worse. Fast.
Between 2005 and 2010, for example, the number of pedestrians struck and killed by distracted drivers grew by a whopping 50%. The number of bicyclists killed jumped by 30% in the same five-year stretch. And experts worry that these statistics actually underestimate the role of distracted driving in fatalities on the road.
Distracted driving is a serious public health threat that requires our attention, say safety experts. Most of us have been guilty of a moment of inattention or two while driving. But we’re talking about a growing problem, involving people who don’t seem to recognize the implications of their selfish behavior. So the next time you reach for the mascara while driving, or glance down—just for a second—to read that life-or-death text, keep in mind that it might just end up being a TRUE matter of life or death for someone trying to share the road. Even if you survive such a crash, ask yourself: Is any text message really important enough to justify risking the lives of other people on the road?
Jim P. Stimpson, PhD, Fernando A. Wilson, PhD, Robert L. Muelleman, MD. Fatalities of Pedestrians, Bicycle Riders, and Motorists Due to Distracted Driving Motor Vehicle Crashes in the U.S., 2005–2010. Public Health Reports, November-December 2013