David Brottman, M.D., a Northwest Community Healthcare Medical Staff pediatrician at Arlington Pediatrics, Ltd., really wants you to read this blog about distracted driving – just not while you’re driving! Read his views on this important topic.
What does distracted driving mean?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it means driving a vehicle while engaging in a non-driving activity. These activities can be visual (taking your eyes of the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel) or cognitive (taking your mind off of driving). These activities can increase the risk of crashing.
Is distracted driving really an issue?
At any given daylight moment in the United States, 660,000 drivers are using some type of electronic equipment, according to the NHTSA. More than 70 percent of young people say they have read a text while driving, so yes, it’s an issue.
Is cell phone use the primary contributor to distracted driving?
Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injuries, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, here are some other top causes of distracted driving:
- Buckling a seat belt while driving
- Adjusting seat while driving
- Using a hands-free device
- Reading a GPS or map
- Changing radio stations or CDs
- Listening to an iPod
- Watching DVDs
- Applying makeup, shaving or combing your hair
- Eating or drinking
- Reaching for personal belongings
- Turning your head to speak to fellow passengers
- Engaging in intense conversations
Dr. Brottman, tell us about your efforts to raise awareness of this issue.
I was frustrated with the amount of injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving – among my patients and so many others. A friend of mine, Brian Wright, has been injured in two separate accidents caused by distracted drivers. One day we decided to do something about this growing problem. We created hang tags for cars that are signed by loved ones who thank the driver for not driving while distracted. Next, we established Just Hang It Up (JHIU).
What is Just Hang It Up?
JHIU is a group of high school students in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. They bring their distracted driving simulator to schools, churches, synagogues and other community groups that are interested in taking the ‘Can you survive if you text and drive?’ challenge.
Any advice on how parents should talk to their teen about distracted driving?
- To teens, actions speak louder than words. Model non-distracted driving.
- Make this a condition for your teen to use the family car. If distracted driving occurs, revoke the car privileges. Remember, parents, no one has the ‘right’ to drive a car; it is a privilege.
- Keep in mind – “one call could wreck it all.”
What two or three tips can you offer those who recognize the need to stop texting and driving?
- Invite a group like JHIU to share their presentation – and prove it to yourself that texting and driving do not mix.
- Download an app that disables your phone to receive texts while the car is moving.
- Use your will power. Put your phone in the glove compartment, back seat or trunk if you feel tempted.
If you are interested in a presentation by Just Hang It Up, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just not while you’re driving!