Distracted driving is a serious problem. Over 3,500 people died in car accidents resulting from distracted driving in 2021 alone – approximately the same number of people currently living in Hartford, SD. Eight percent of fatal crashes during the same year involved distracted drivers.
However good a motorist you might be, distracted driving can claim your life. Worse yet, even your briefest lapse in judgment may cause you to claim the life of an innocent victim. That was the case for Gregory Andriotis, who is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide after striking a 9-year-old boy while he was texting behind the wheel.
A higher auto insurance premium is hardly the worst possible outcome of distracted driving, but you can surely live without that as well. If you would like to save yourself, save the lives of strangers, and avoid needless expense, then you must take every reasonable precaution against distracted driving!
Understand the danger
If you take your eyes off the road for 6 seconds while traveling at 55 mph, you will cover the length of an entire football field without looking. Imagine that: being legally responsible for any damage, injury or death your vehicle may inflict, but totally unaware of what lies in front of it hundreds of yards down the road.
Don’t use your cell phone behind the wheel
Cell phone use caused an estimated 5 million car crashes in 2017. One out of four car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving! You may believe using a hands-free phone while driving is safer, although scientific research does not support that assumption. The safest conclusion is quite clear: do not call, text, or otherwise use your phone while driving. Even looking up directions on your phone’s GPS feature increases your risk of an accident.
Don’t eat behind the wheel
Eating while driving increases the risk of crashing by an astounding 80 percent. Even more alarmingly, over half of Americans admit to eating and drinking (nonalcoholic beverages) behind the wheel. If you can be advised to snack before you begin driving – and pull over to enjoy fast food the proper way, so you can focus 100 percent of your attention on the delicious food – please do.
Don’t apply makeup behind the wheel
A recent study by a British insurance agency revealed that one quarter of women admit to applying makeup while they are driving. The majority of those women have also been involved in (or nearly been involved in) accidents. We understand the importance of makeup, but driving safely is a much better look!
Keep pets secured while driving
One of the most famous instances of distracted driving involved a pet. Bryan Smith claimed that he was attempting to prevent Bullet, his Rottweiler, from eating meat out of the cooler in his passenger seat when he drove his 1985 Dodge Caravan into a pedestrian. That pedestrian was none other than Stephen King, who very nearly died from his injuries.
Secure loose objects before driving
Loose objects stored in vehicles are accountable for approximately 13,000 injuries each year. Not all of these injuries result when drivers are distracted by suddenly shifting objects, however. An unsecured object can become airborne during a collision – and strike with more than sufficient force to cause death or injury.
Talk with your kids about distracted driving
Distracted driving is an especially pernicious problem among teenagers. In 44 percent of distracted driving accidents that result in fatalities, the decedents are 15 to 19 years old. If your child is old enough to drive (or looking forward to it), sit them down for a frank conversation about distracted driving. Remind them that they are essentially no different from Carlee Rose Bollig, a Minnesotan 17-year-old who killed a father and his daughter when she ran a red light while texting.
Keeping all of your attention fully trained on the road is essential to being a responsible driver. So too is having auto insurance! If you would like to ensure that your own driving errors (as well as those of other motorists) don’t ruin you financially, then we welcome you to contact McKinneyOlson Insurance today. We have served the greater Sioux Falls, SD area for all its insurance needs since our foundation in 1880!