Focus On Distracted Driving

Cell phone companies and handheld providers are allowing their users, many of whom are teens, to access these sites from their cell phones to provide even quicker and easier access for users.  We truly live in the “push of a button age!” Cell phone companies are even enabling their customers to text to Facebook or Twitter without requiring that they even enter the social networking site, which in turn, allows communication to be even quicker than before.    

When used properly there are many benefits of this evolving technology, however when used improperly or at the wrong time, it can cause very dangerous and even deadly consequences.

There are many other ways you can be distracted while driving. There are three main types of distraction and they are all dangerous, as follows:

  • VISUAL — taking your eyes off the road
  • MANUAL — taking your hands off the wheel
  • COGNITIVE — taking your mind off what you’re doing

 Distracted driving” is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract the driver from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. Other distracting activities, besides using a cell phone, include:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming, including applying makeup and combing hair
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player.

However, while all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, texting and driving is the most alarming and dangerous, because it involves all three types of distraction simultaneously:  visual, manual and cognitive.  

AT&T has produced a compelling video, “It Can Wait,” to increase awareness about the perils of texting and driving. Offered to high school students in Middlesex County by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, this program explains that texting and driving is more than just a legal issue, as the documentary portrays individuals whose lives have been forever altered by texting while driving. This program is an anti-texting and driving educational presentation.  It includes a powerful and moving documentary created by AT&T and highlights the dangerous consequences that can result when you send a text message or access the internet or social networking sites on your cell phone while you are driving a vehicle. This video was prepared by AT&T because they feel it is their responsibility, as a cell phone provider, to bring these dangers to light. These true stories highlight how making bad choices about texting and driving have resulted in tragic consequences.To view the video documentary, please click here.

During the high school assemblies, the District Attorney shares with students the two simple rules that he follows and asks the students to follow while driving:

  1. Never have a hand held device within arm’s reach of the driver while the car is moving.
  2. Never allow the driver of the vehicle to pick up the hand held while the car is moving. That way, he or she can never even be tempted to text and drive.

 Additional information for drivers to be aware of to help ensure their safety is:

  • The #1 killer of youth ages 16-19 is car crashes.
  • The Governor’s Highway Safety Association in Washington D.C. recently released statistics that the deaths of 16 year olds, from automobile accidents, are up 24% and the deaths of 17 year olds are up 15%.
  • Be smart and never text while driving. No text message is worth being distracted and getting into an accident.
  •  Never send a text message to a friend that is driving to meet you, or to anyone you know is likely behind the wheel.
  • Be in control, and remember it’s your hand held device. You need to take control of it and never allow it to become a distraction, interfering with safety.
  • Consider turning your phone off, setting it to silent or even storing it in the glove box before getting on the road. This will keep the cell phone out of reach, should you be tempted to use it while driving.
  • Be an example, and not send the wrong message to others by texting while you drive.
  • Urge your family and friends to follow your example.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has a proud tradition of protecting and serving the people of Middlesex County through tough, fair prosecutions and proactive, progressive prevention and intervention efforts. Warning the people of Middlesex County, especially our less experienced drivers, about the dangers of distracted driving is just one of the many ways that the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office endeavors to eliminate preventable tragedies that result from distracted driving.

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