The Nation Highway Traffic safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Oskaloosa Police Department has declared distracted driving to be a major concern regarding traffic safety. Distracted driving is any activity that takes a person’s attention away from the task of driving. Distractions include, but are not limited to: texting, using a cell phone, eating/drinking, talking to a passenger, grooming, reading (including maps), using a gps, watching a video, or adjusting your radio or mp3 player. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.
Our youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk when it comes to distracted driving, with 16% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under 20. But they are not alone; at any given moment, during daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.
Talking on a cell phone while driving requires the brain to multitask – a process it cannot do safely while driving. While growing number of drivers are turning to hands-free devices, studies show hands-free devices provide minimal safety benefit. The area of the brain responsible for processing moving visual information – a vital part of driving – has 37% less capacity to gather and process critical driving data and instead focuses on the cell phone conversation.
Texting has increasingly become the way many people communicate. American teens send and receive an average of 3,300 text messages per month or more than 6 texts every hour they are awake. Sending text or e-mail messages while driving is extremely dangerous, as it draws a driver’s eyes, mind and hands away from the road. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off of the road for approximately 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded. A texting driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a non-texting driver.
Iowa’s primary electronic communications device law prohibits all novice drivers (up to age 18) from using any hand-held electronic communication or entertainment device while driving. A secondary law prohibits all drivers from texting while driving.
The Oskaloosa Police Department would like to remind drivers the next time you’re pressed for time and it seems like multitasking in the car is no big deal, remember one out of every four traffic crashes is caused by drivers talking on a cell phone or sending text messages. Don’t risk your life. Put down the phone and drive.