The deadly consequences of distracted driving

Getting in the car and running errands, going to work and heading out for the weekend is automatic for many North Carolina. Many drivers multi-task while driving, instead of focusing on the road, due in part to being comfortable behind the wheel. Car crashes occur as a result of distracted driving every day. The consequences range from minor fender benders to fatalities.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports that distracted drivers likely respond slower to traffic conditions. Inattentive drivers may miss the signs of safety hazards and lack time to use evasive driving techniques, with often deadly results.

Although cellphone use receives significant attention, drivers take part in many other activities while behind the wheel. The following are among the most common reasons inside the vehicle for distracted driving, other than texting or talking on the phone.

  • Programming music/podcast/video selection
  • Using a GPS/navigation system
  • Eating
  • Personal grooming
  • Talking with passengers

It is not only what takes place inside the car that can cause distractions. Watching activities along the roadway and reading signs also divert attention from the travel lanes. Designating a passenger as co-pilot to read street signs and look for landmarks in unfamiliar areas can reduce the risk of a crash.

Although the Governors Highway Safety Association recommends that all states ban smartphone use while driving, North Carolina does not. However, current laws do ban novice drivers under the age of 18 from using hand-held devices and texting for all individuals when behind the wheel.

In 2017, there were more than 3,100 fatalities on U.S. roadways as the result of distracted driving. Today, 38 states ban cell phones for novice drivers, 16 states prohibit all drivers from hand-held phone use, and 47 states have laws that ban texting and driving

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