Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Deadly Distractions

Deadly distractions is when we talk on cellphones, we pick up something on the car floor, we snack, change clothes, or anything else, even shave behind the wheels. It is worth taking the chance?

It might seem obvious to say that when drivers stop paying attention to the road, even for a few seconds, bad things are bound to happen. Yet most of us admit to occasionally changing the radio station, reaching behind the seat, or changing the CDs while in motion. Then you look up-and suddenly you are out of lane, in the wrong lane, grazing the shoulder or coming up fast on the back of a stop or slow car. Phew! Thank God! I made it in time. That was so close!

Well, it is too close, too often, according to mounting experts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that the majority vast majority of accidents (Nearly 80 percent) could be prevented if drivers paid more attention (Before you say anything consider also that accidents can happen due to other reasons.) The study involved 100 cars fitted with cameras and sensors, driven nearly two million miles. Participants had 82 real accidents and 761 near crashes.

Nationwide insurance, which conducted a survey in November 2006, suggested that distracted driving is a national pastime! of 1,200 respondents, ages 18 to 60, 73 percent said they used cell phone while driving; 68 percent eat while driving. Others shave, read, even paint their toenails in traffic.

Gadget-obsessed teen drivers are perhaps the most distracted. In a national survey by State Farm Insurance and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia released in January, more than half of teens pooled said they saw other teens driving while text messaging or using handheld games and other tech gear.

Last June, the nation grieved after a head-on collision killed five young women on their way to a lakeside cottage in upstate New York to celebrate their recent high school graduation. Later, police said a cell phone belonging to the driver had sent and received text messages just 38 seconds before the first 911 call reported the accident. No one knows whether the driver or the passenger was using the phone.

It is unclear exactly how much of the economic cost of car accidents - currently at 230 billion annually in the United States-can be attributed to distracted driving. That's because not all accidents are reported, and drivers involved in the accidents are reluctant to admit they were changing CDs or putting on makeup. But NTHSA estimates that driver distraction contributes to 25 percent of all reported accidents, and that is a low-end figure according to Bill Windsor fo the Office of Safety at Nationwide Insurance. In this day and time, people have a lot to do and so little time to have that it is natural that they become multitaskers. It becomes so natural that they carry it over into driving. But driving a car requires focus and attention, so multitasking puts you and others in danger when driving your car.

Survey results often show admissions of shaving legs, ate a taco, put on makeup and drank alcohol. While others show woman bottle-fed her baby-In the backseat!- while driving.

Think you have heard enough? after a multicar pileup on Seattle Interstate 5 caused by a driver using a PDA, The Seattle times asked the readers to email their riskiest behind-the-wheel behavior. No one was quite prepared for the woman who makes coleslaw while driving. She explained that it was her signature dish to take to picnics and she was always running late. Not to worry, she buys pre-shredded cabbage, waits for a stop light or room between the car in the front then whips it up.

The stories may shock you, and yet many people do not think about the dangers.

Are you waiting for an accident to convince you otherwise?