Texting while driving is like wearing a blindfold for five seconds, as a Colorado Department of Transportation poster says, urging drivers to “Lose the blindfold and drive distraction-free.” That is one of several posters that Colorado transportation officials are using to get the message out that distracted driving is dangerous. The posters, as well as Web banners and brochures, are free to use, as CDOT writes.
Some of the other CDOT materials say: “I was eating and driving and didn’t notice the parked car in front of me”; “I was shaving and driving and didn’t notice the jogger in front of me”; and “I was texting and driving and didn’t notice the little boy in front of me.”
The facts are that in Colorado, at least 50 traffic deaths annually can be attributed to distracted driving, as CDOT writes. Using a cell phone or other electronic device while driving (and there are many ways it can be used) increases your risk of a car accident by three times, CDOT writes.
There are many behaviors that cause drivers to be distracted, including anything involving using a cell phone or smartphone; eating or drinking; engaging with passengers, children, or pets; shaving; applying make-up; looking at a map; and adjusting the radio, CD player, or MP3 player, CDOT writes. When you want to do any of the above-mentioned things, it is always safest to pull over and stop, CDOT writes.
But of all the distracting behaviors, texting while driving is the most prevalent and the worst, writes the Colorado Division of Human Resources (CDHR). Studies have shown that if you text while driving, your risk of crashing is more than 23 times greater than if you were not texting, the CDHR writes.
As the Associated Press reported last November in an ABC7 News Denver article, an AT&T survey of 1,004 U.S. adults found that although 98% of drivers who own cellphones — and text on a regular basis — know about the dangers of texting while driving, three-quarters of them still do it, despite laws against it. More than a quarter of the texting drivers surveyed believe they “can easily do several things at once, even while driving,” the article says.
The Colorado Division of Human Resources quotes Dr. David Strayer, University of Utah, as saying:
‘We’ve looked to see if we can find people who can talk on the phone and drive safely. There are 2% of people who might be as gifted as a skilled fighter pilot. But we have yet to find anybody who can safely text and drive.’
Under Colorado law, texting while driving is illegal for all drivers, and texting and/or talking while driving is illegal for drivers under the age of 18, CDOT writes. As this blog wrote last month, a study in the May issue of The American Journal of Public Health found that bans on texting while driving reduced crash-related hospitalizations by 7% among all age groups.
CDHR offers many suggestions for ways to prevent distracted driving. They include:
- Turn your phone off while driving.
- Just don’t text while driving.
- Use a call blocking app to let callers know you are driving, and that will queue calls until you are safely pulled over
- When you call anyone, first ask if they are driving; if they are, say you will call them later, or ask them to call you once they reach their destination.
- If you are a passenger and the driver is not focused on the road, don’t be afraid to speak up. Offer to make the call for them, or to help with navigation.
- Use a pre-set driving playlist to play music so you are not having to choose songs while driving.
- Teach your children to answer the phone for you when you are driving.
- Set a good example for your kids and don’t text while driving.
CDOT recommends the tips at Stops the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.:
- When you get into the car, put your phone where you can’t get it, and where you won’t be tempted to look for it. That could be the trunk, suggests Toni Birdsong on McAfee Blog Central.
- Silence your phone. The less you hear it, the less you will be tempted to respond while driving.
- Designate a texter. Passengers can text on behalf of the driver.
- There are many apps that can help you stop texting and driving. Birdsong lists several in her McAfee blog post.
- Join the Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks Facebook page.
- Become an advocate. Download sample social media posts.