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Arrive alive, don’t drive distracted

Sydney Boyce, Minot

Distracted driving is any act that takes a person’s attention off the road. When the term distracted driving is presented, the first thing that may come to mind is the use of cell phones. Cell phone usage while driving is seen almost everywhere you go and is a dangerous act made by the driver that jeopardizes not only their life but everyone’s around them. Were you aware however, that cell phone use is not only one type of distraction but three? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three main types of distractions.

First, is visual, which is the act of taking your eyes off the road. Second, is manual, which is taking one or both hands off the steering wheel. Third, is cognitive, and is when you lose mental focus of driving.

For instance, have you ever driven through a stop light and could not remember if it was green or not? That is an example if a cognitive distraction. Cell phone use falls under each category and better helps to explain why it is so dangerous. Other possible distractions that may occur while driving include eating, reaching for something next to you, or even using a navigation system.

Did you know, every day approximately nine people are killed, and 1,000 are injured in the United States due to distracted driving? In 2017, 3,116 people were killed due to distracted driving. When a text message distracts someone from driving an individual usually takes their eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. This is like driving the length of a football field at 55 mph with your eyes closed. Action needs to be done to ensure that people know the dangers and consequences, and how to prevent themselves from distracted driving.

The first step in prevention is education. Parents should lead by example, as well as have a talk with their teens and young adults. It is important to inform them that in certain states, if they were to get caught texting and driving as a minor, they can face harsher consequences then adults such as losing their licensing and having to pay a fine. As an individual you should not allow your friends or family to drive and be distracted while you are in the vehicle. Do not be ashamed to ask them to put their phone down, because after all, they are putting your life in danger. With new, advanced technology, “apps” have been created to detect if you are driving and won’t allow you to access to your phone during this time. Some will even block incoming texts until you are stopped. The top-rated apps that are free to download to prevent texting and driving are: It Can Wait, Down for the Count, and On My Way.

The second step is law changes. Texting while driving has been banned in 48 states, while 21 states have banned the use of a cell phone in your hands at any time behind the wheel of a vehicle. In North Dakota there is currently no hand-held law ban. However, there is a law banning all driver from texting a driving. For more information about the current laws and regulations of the state you reside in please visit www.ghsa.org/index.php/ state-laws/issues/distracted%20driving.

Please think before you drive. Not only about your safety but also everyone else’s around you. It can wait, no matter what you may think at the time. Always remember to NEVER be afraid to speak up as a passenger if the driver decides to put your life in danger. Everyone can help in decreasing the number of people that die each year related to distracted driving. Please drive safe.

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