Friday, October 24, 2014

The Dangers & Consequences of Distracted Driving

Did you know that most road accidents are caused by distracted driving? Motor vehicle accidents are the cause of 30,000 deaths every year. That is an astonishing number, folks! I wish I could say that I am a stranger to being distracted while driving, but it just isn't so. Between a fussy child in the back seat to figuring out where one needs to be, the distractions are plentiful, and are sometimes the culprit when it comes to accidents. 

I never realized what a distraction my child would become while in the car. 
Naturally, you want to keep your eye on your precious cargo, so you occasionally glance back at them. They want you to play certain music, so you find yourself trying to find the CD containing their favorite song. They become hungry, so you fish for a snack and a juice pouch out of the back seat bag- all while driving... because you're super mom and can do it all.

The truth is that by not keeping your eyes fully focused on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind focused and alert, you could be seconds away from a disastrous situation. I have never been in an automobile accident, and the thought of it scares me, so I try to take as many precautions as possible before I get out on the road (even when I am the passenger and hubby is driving), so that we can avoid distractions while driving.

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I take the following precautions before leaving the driveway:

*Make sure you know where you're going before you leave the house. Sure GPS is a great tool, but it's a major distraction if you're having to fumble with it while driving. Look up directions, print out a map, or put the address of your destination into your phone before you leave the house.

*Make sure children and pets are fastened in their seats correctly and securely, and at a comfortable temperature. Make sure the car is a comfortable temperature inside, and remove heavy outerwear before fastening into a car or safety seat.

*Make children's items accessible to the child. I make sure that B has a snack, drink and toy within reach, so that I don't have to reach behind my seat to hand him anything. Most car seats have built in cup holders and cargo pockets these days, so take advantage of those. If not, a snack and play tray for older children is a great idea to have.

*Check mirrors, bells and whistles. I.E.: Make sure you know how everything works in the car you're driving. If you're not sure about something, test it out before you leave the driveway! You'll definitely want to know where the lights and wipers are.

*Manage your music. I have found that they best thing to do is to make a playlist and load it onto your MP3 player, make a CD of your child's favorite songs, or just use the radio. The less you have to fumble with CD's, seek buttons, etc- the better.

*Try not to eat while driving. Major distraction, and takes one hand away from the wheel.

*Prep and primp before leaving the house, ladies. I sometimes put lip gloss on in the car- but never while I am driving.

*No texting and driving! It's illegal in all but six states, and you can get hit with jail time or whopping fines if you're caught doing it.

*Keep your car well maintained. Keep up with oil changes, wiper blade changes, keep at least 1/2 a tank of gas in the car, etc. You'll worry less about the little things if you keep your car maintained. If something seems off, pull over in a safe place and call for assistance.

*Use a hands-free device if you must talk on the phone while driving.

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Penalties of Distracted Driving are no joke. You don't want to find yourself being ticketed, fined, winding up with points or your license, having your license revoked, or even serving jail time for breaking the very serious rules of the road. In the state of Alaksa, the penalty for texting while driving is a whopping $10,000 fee, whereas in most other states it is far, far less. Many states seem to take driving while intoxicated much more seriously than texting and driving, but if you ask me, it's equally as dangerous.

My hope is that more states will take texting while driving offenses more seriously, and up the ante on the ramifications. Far too many lives have been taken or cut short due to distracted driving. By raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, we could very well be saving lives.

Stay safe!

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