How Five Seconds Can Change Your Life

driver using cell phoneGuest Blogger: Mariann Manno, MD, Chief, Division of Pediatric Emergency Services, UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center

Are you guilty? Just a little? Do you sneak a peek? Only at stop signs or red lights? Well, maybe just once in a great while when absolutely necessary…

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. Do you really think you can safely drive 120 yards without looking? Think about the child running in the street after a ball. Or, the bicyclist riding next to you. Or, the driver in the oncoming car who is also texting.

It’s just not worth the risk – or your life. Every day, 11 teens die as a result of texting while driving and 26 percent of crashes involve drivers talking and texting on cell phones. But, because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. At any given moment across the United States, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. Texting while driving is already banned in Massachusetts and 46 other states.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 20-year-olds, killing 6,000 teens annually. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of crashes.

Don’t be a statistic. Only use your cell phone for true emergency situations, pull over when you feel drowsy, limit the number of passengers and activity inside the car, and avoid eating while driving. Whatever you’re doing besides driving can wait! Driving distracted is deadly, not only to you and your passengers, but also to everyone else on the road.

Join the conversation! How do you steer clear of distracting texts while driving? Share your tips!

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