Every month we have a safety meeting with all our employees at each of our three locations. This month’s topic was “Distracted Driving”. We learned some very interesting and rather scary information. After one of our employees stated they were going to have their teenager read the information, we thought it would be good information for people in general to know and would make a great “news” article.

The following information comes from Federated Insurance:

“Distractions are so common and appear so harmless that we may not recognize them as dangerous. Further, we may not even realize how often we ourselves are distracted from our most important job – driving the vehicle safely.

Safe driving is a complex task that requires our full attention. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that a driver makes an average of 20 major decisions during every mile of driving, and that drivers frequently have less than half a second to act to avoid a collision. Processing this much information within such a limited time doesn’t allow for distractions and slowed reaction times.

Distracted driving is the presence of anything that can disrupt a driver from the task at hand – and not just by taking our eyes off the road.

Distractions can be broken down into three main categories – visual, physical, and mental.
-Visual distractions are temptations that cause us to take our eyes off the road.
-Physical distractions require us to take our hands off the steering wheel or prevent our feet from reaching the gas and brakes.
-Mental distractions keep our minds from concentrating on the task at hand.

We encounter these distractions every day; here are just a few examples:
-Talking on a cell phone
-Eating and drinking
-Talking to passengers
-Adjusting MP3
-Gawking at accidents
-Reading a map of paperwork
-Personal grooming
-Adjusting the radio or other controls
-Taking notes
-Reading diagnostic equipment

As drivers, we must manage distractions before they become a problem. If you allow distractions to consume you, they will get the best of you and have a negative impact on your ability to drive safely.

A 2011 study by Federate Insurance revealed that 50% of commercial driving accidents included distractions as a contributing factor. That was more than weather, failure to yield, and following too closely combined. Additionally, a 2009 study conducted by Virginia Tech University revealed that operators of heavy vehicles and trucks increased their risk of crash or near-crash events by participating in distracted behaviors.

The following is a list of behaviors and their increased crash risk:

-Texting     23.2 times more likely
-Cleaning side mirror/ Digging in bag     10.1 times more likely
-Interacting with dispatch service     9.9 times more likely
-Taking notes     9 times more likely
-Using calculator     8.2 times more likely
-Looking at maps     7 times more likely
-Looking for and reaching for electronic devices     6.7 times more likely
-Dialing a cell phone     5.9 times more likely
-Personal grooming     4.5 times more likely
-Reading book, newspaper, or paperwork     4 times more likely
-Putting on, adjusting, or removing sun/ reading glasses     3.6 times more likely
-Reaching for object     3 times more likely
-Adjusting instrument panel     1.25 times more likely

Let’s take a look at how distractions have a negative impact on driving.
-Reduce Visual Awareness
Distractions prevent us from seeing the need to take evasive maneuvers with pedestrians, bicyclists, other vehicles, or debris in the road.
-Slow Reaction Times
Distractions cause us to react more slowly to traffic conditions and other events outside the vehicle, such as failure to notice brake lights. When our minds are somewhere else, we lose precious seconds before the risk of an accident registers in our minds.
-Create a Narrow Safety Margin
Distractions create a decreased margin of safety because we unknowingly take risks we might not otherwise take, such as turning left in front of oncoming traffic or making overly aggressive lane changes.”

We thought this was pretty eye-opening. We hope that you will think so too and take this information to heart and not allow yourself to be distracted when driving. Stay safe!


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