We are now living in a world where everyone is connected at all times…people can even check their email on a remote beach somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean as long as there is wifi. While there are advantages to this constant state of connectivity, there are also some drawbacks. Some of these drawbacks are more of a nuisance (never getting to truly relax!), however, others can be downright deadly. Chief among these issues is the current distracted driving epidemic we are seeing across the country and to an even greater degree in Georgia. A few sobering statistics from the Georgia Department of Transportation,
- Georgia saw a 22% increase in traffic fatalities in 2015.
- 65% of these fatalities were for failure to maintain lane
- 47% of fatalities involved only a single vehicle striking a fixed object
- 16% involved striking pedestrians and bicyclists
To put into perspective how enormous the jump in fatalities was in 2015, Georgia had experienced 9 consecutive years of decreased fatalities prior to 2015. What is the common denominator for a majority of the fatalities caused by failure to maintain lane and striking a fixed object, pedestrian or cyclist?
If you drive anywhere in Metro Atlanta these days it is hard to find drivers that are not staring at their cell phone, fiddling with their entertainment display or simply not paying attention to the road. Distracted Driving has always been a problem but our connectivity has turned the problem into an epidemic and it is costing lives. We all know the allure of the buzz or ding coming from our phone just a few inches away in our pocket or console. If you give into the need, the average time it takes to check a text is five seconds which is long enough for your car to travel the length of a football field while you are driving blind!
What can you do to help curb this disturbing trend?
- Never text and drive. If you absolutely have to communicate with someone find a spot to pull over and safely communicate with them. Even if you start a text at a traffic light, many times it is hard to finish before you are moving again which creates a dangerous situation.
- Speak up if your driver is texting or otherwise distracted. It may be uncomfortable to ask them to pay attention but it is not worth risking your life to avoid an awkward conversation.
- Put your phone up where it is not accessible while you are driving. This will help with the need to “constantly check” that many have become addicted to.
- Drive Defensively. You can only control your vehicle so you need to drive as though none of the other drivers are paying attention….because they probably aren’t.