Last September, Safe Kids Wake County released findings from a local study in school zones examining the number of distracted drivers. We found that one out of every six drivers was doing something other than just driving. The distractions varied from grooming to disciplining children to eating to reading the paper to adjusting the radio to dialing or talking on the cell phone.
The News & Observer has run a series of articles recently highlighting the dangers of driving while distracted. This series of articles was spurred by fatal traffic accidents attributed to cell phone use and driving. Included in this series is an article published Sunday highlighting a father and daughter who admittedly phone/text while driving on a regular basis. The most disturbing part of the article is that the pair does not seem to have any intention of reforming their ways, although they are putting themselves and everyone else on the road at risk. Oprah has also started a national movement to take back our roads called the “No Phone Zone.” Visit Oprah’s site to watch the show and take the “No Phone Zone” pledge.
We see the repercussions of driving while distracted every single day in our trauma center. Distracted drivers are similar to drunk drivers in that they are not aware of their environment. And as the number of distractions in the car continue to increase (DVD players, GPS, Internet, etc.), it will take a real effort for all of us to change our mindset and eliminate distractions while driving. We live in a fast paced society, but for the health of ourselves, our family, and our community, it is important that we take care of grooming at home, make phone calls before pulling out of the driveway, pull over to discipline the children, and program the GPS only while stopped at the stoplight. Our roads will be safer for it and countless accidents will be prevented not to mention lives saved.