What Exactly Is Distracted Driving?
These days, the image that comes to mind when you think about distracted driving is of someone texting while they’re behind the wheel. Though this scenario is definitely a problem, it’s far from the only issue.
Are you having a bite during the morning commute? Trying to find a good radio station to tune in on the highway? What about having a lengthy conversation with one of your passengers? Have you ever tried a read the ad on a billboard that got your attention? Doing any of these makes you a distracted driver.
Here’s how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving.
“ Any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
Now, most of those things may not be illegal but that doesn’t mean they’re safe to do while driving your truck. As a driver, your main concern should be just that – driving. After all, you’re operating a vehicle that weighs about a couple of tons on average, usually even more. That fact alone should enough of a reason to give driving your full attention. One mistake is all it takes for a serious accident to happen, as we’re often reminded in the news.
Facts and Figures behind Distracted Driving
In the US, vehicles run at an average speed of 55 mph. According to the DMV, it only takes 5 seconds to cross the length of a football field if you’re going that fast. And how long do you think it takes a driver to send or read a text? About 5 seconds. See how dangerous that can be?
If you still think 5 seconds isn’t that long, you might want to know about what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has to say. They found that 80% of crashes were caused by being distracted 3 seconds before the accident. In addition, around 25% or crash fatalities are attributed to distracted driving.
About 9 people lose their lives every day because a driver wasn’t paying attention, according to the CDC. When they took a look at different age groups, they found that 16-19-year-olds are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those aged 20 or older. Several reasons were identified for this such as driver inexperience, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, and of course, distracted driving.
Because of these statistics, more and more people are calling distracted driving to an epidemic. And with the ever-increasing things that try to grab our attention, it’s no wonder why. It’s also being compared to drunk driving, which I’m sure no one will disagree is a big no-no.
While we can go on and on about the many different studies and figures regarding this issue, it should be clear by now that taking your attention off the road while driving is never a good idea. You need to take this matter seriously because there are severe consequences.
Financial Consequence of Not Paying Attention to the Road
Laws regarding distracted driving vary from state to state. But in recent years, laws have been enacted to specifically address texting or calling on a cell phone and the use of electronic devices while driving. Here are a few of them.
- Texting while driving in Colorado carries a penalty of $50 for the first time and double for the second offense.
- You’ll have to pay up to $150 on top of getting your license getting suspended if you’re under 18 and incurred a texting and driving violation in Ohio.
- The first offense for texting and driving in Louisiana is $175.
- The state of New York prohibits drivers from using electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. You can expect a fine as high as $200 for the first offense.
- In Nebraska, a first-time offense of texting while driving can get you a $200 fee and up to three points added to your driving record.
- Missouri’s texting while driving laws apply only to those aged 21 and under and those with a commercial driver license. School bus drivers, teen drivers are looking at $200 in fines for the offense.
- In Hawaii, you’ll get fined $297 for the first offense. That amount will go up for any subsequent violations.
- The penalty for using your phone while driving can be as much as $400 in New Jersey.
- Indiana considers texting and driving a major offense. Just using your phone while behind the wheel can cost you up to $500.
- In Texas, there’s no statewide ban against using a cell phone while driving. There are, however, local laws against doing so in nearly 100 cities in the state.
- Alaska is a state that doesn’t mess around. Texting and driving is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of $10,000 and one year in prison.
Aceable.com has a more comprehensive list of penalties for every state which you should totally check out.
But it’s not just fines and tickets you have to worry about. Insurance companies also take texting while driving violations seriously. A report by The Zebra, a car insurance comparison marketplace, found that having a texting or using a phone while driving violation on your record can raise your premiums by an average of $226 or higher in some states.
Teenagers have it especially rough. They can pay up to $7,000 a year for car insurance! Factors such as their inexperience driving and stats that show teens make reckless driving decisions (such as texting behind the wheel) contribute the cost of their liability insurance.
What You Can Do To Avoid Distracted Driving
Driver distractions can be put into three different categories: Visual Tasks, Manual Tasks, and Cognitive Tasks
Visual tasks, as the name implies, take your eyes away from the road. This can include looking at your navigation system, glancing at your phone when you get a notification, checking the backseat using a rear view mirror or simply looking at something on the side of the road.
Manual tasks involve taking one or both hands off the steering wheel. Texting, taking a phone call, eating, adjusting the air conditioning, reaching for items, or adjusting the mirrors fall under this category.
Cognitive tasks are those that mentally distract you from driving safely. If you’re feeling emotional, sleepy or simply thinking about something else, you might not be able to give the act of driving your full attention.
Don’t let any of these distractions keep you from driving safely. Unless there’s an emergency, don’t let your eyes stray from the road ahead. Make preparations before even starting the engine so that you won’t have to fiddle with stuff while your vehicle is moving. Pull over if you’re emotions get the best of you or if you’re feeling tired.
These simple steps can significantly reduce the risk of getting into an accident on the road.
Protect Yourself from Distracted Drivers on the Road
We’ve talked about the things you can do to avoid distractions when you’re the one behind the wheel. But what about when you’re not the one whose attention isn’t focused on being a good driver?
Since you’re not the only motorist on the road, you need be careful of other distracted drivers as well.
Keep in mind defensive driving practices that can help you anticipate and identify potential dangers. These include assuming that there’s going to be someone that will run a red light, keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, checking your mirrors frequently, and anticipating what other drivers might do. And don’t forget to ALWAYS wear your seat belt.
While defensive driving can help reduce the risk of an accident, it can’t eliminate it completely. In the event of a crash, is your vehicle tough enough to keep you safe?
Aftermarket bumpers can add a layer of protection from accidents caused by drivers who aren’t paying attention. Manufacturers such as Ranch Hand, Steelcraft, Hammerhead, and ICI produce front bumpers that are ready for both off-road and on-road hazards.
Just take a look at Steelcraft’s Elevation series of front bumpers, for example. It provides a full-coverage protection for trucks. In case of a crash, it can help minimize the damage to the vehicle and its passengers.
There are also low profile options like the ICI Magnum. While smaller, these bumpers will still take the brunt of an impact to help keep you and your truck safe.
You can also check out BumperOnly’s collection of heavy duty bumpers. If you need help in choosing which one would fit your vehicle, our friendly staff is always happy to lend a hand.