Watch the road! April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
March 21, 2013
RICHMOND—One text or call could really wreck it all—a point that Drive Smart Virginia and Virginia Farm Bureau have been trying to convey to drivers.
“Distracted driving has become a dangerous epidemic,” said Farm Bureau Safety Manager Jimmy Maass. “Eight out of 10 traffic crashes in Virginia are related to a distracted driving incident.”
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. There are three main types of distractions: manual distractions, such as taking one’s hands off the wheel; visual distractions, like taking one’s eyes off the road; and cognitive distractions such as taking one’s mind off driving.
Text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from a driver, so it is by far the most alarming, Maass said.
Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Sending or reading a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
Talking on a cell phone while driving decreases the brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. Drivers using a handheld cell phone device are four times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury. Using a cell phone while driving delays a driver’s reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08, the legal limit for drunk driving.
Current Virginia law prohibits all drivers from text messaging while driving. Drivers younger than 18 and school bus drivers are prohibited from using handheld or hands-free cell phones. Last year the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration put into effect a ban on the use of handheld cell phones while driving a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license.
For more information, visit drivesmartva.org. Information on a variety of safety topics also is available from Farm Bureau at FarmBureauAdvantage.com/safety.
Contact Maass at 804-290-1379.