There have always been distractions while driving – tuning the radio, drinking coffee, or attending to a child. Today, a new generation of technology gadgets – from cell phones and PDA’s to GPSsystems and MP3 players – are making these distractions seem old-fashioned.
While these devices entertain us or keep us in touch with one another, they definitely make our roads more dangerous. It’s not hard to imagine the dangers of typing text message or searching for one song among thousands while zooming down the road at 80km/hr. If you think nobody does that, you’re wrong. In fact, nearly 40% of the drivers in a U.S. poll said they’ve typed a text message while driving, 30% said they’ve driven while using their MP3 players with headphones… and an alarming 58% admitted they’ve taken both hands off the steering wheel to fiddle with high-tech gadgets.
Without thinking, we have become slaves to these devices – not knowing when to turn them off and unable to resist the urge to answer their calls. A recent study helped prove this point. Although 89% of the drivers surveyed admitted to having concerns about distracted drivers, 60% indicated they would not stop using their technology devices even after being told they increased their risk of a collision by 400%. Many jurisdictions, like New York state, have banned cell phone use while driving and are drafting laws to “prohibit reading, writing and the use of personal communications technologies” while behind the wheel.
It is your responsibility to understand the risks of driving with high-tech distractions and to know when to use them and when to leave them in your pocket. The safest strategy is to always wait until you get to your destination, or pull over to a safe location, before making your calls. If you must be on call and available while in your vehicle, consider a wireless headset or a device with voice command software to reduce your risk.
Don’t ever check or send email or surf the Internet while driving – period. PDA’s, laptops and navigation systems all add dangerous multi-tasking to the driving experience.
Finally, never use headphones while driving!
It’s not only distracting, but dangerous because you won’t be able to hear emergency vehicles.
Use common sense when it comes to in-car technology gadgets, your life may depend on it.