Distracted Driving and the Dangers to Road Crews

Visual (taking your eyes off the road). Manual (taking your hands off the wheel). Cognitive (taking your mind off the task at hand). Any one of these factors, which specifically takes your attention away from driving, is a distraction. And distractions have consequences.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nine people are killed, and more than 1,000 are injured daily in incidents reported as distraction-related crashes in the United States, with some experts stating those numbers could be grossly underestimated. Chief among the leading causes is handheld cellphone use. For context, imagine this. According to NHTSA, five distracted seconds traveling at a speed of 55 mph is the same as driving an entire length of a football field with your eyes shut.

And while the simple solution is just to eliminate any and all distractions while driving, the practice is becoming increasingly harder to put into motion. For example, 96% of drivers surveyed by AAA say texting or emailing while driving is a “serious” or “very serious” threat to their safety. Yet, 39% admitted to doing so in the month prior to taking the survey, with 29% admitting to typing one while driving.

The strategy for helping curtail the spate of distracted driving incidents around the Tampa Bay area should be a unified one, including explaining the dangers of being distracted while operating a car to new drivers, especially before they get their license, and leading by example. Following are some tips from DefensiveDriving.org you can use:

  • Commit to the drive — When you get behind the wheel, focus fully on the task at hand. Don’t multitask, and keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Pull over if you need to do something.
  • On your mark, get set, drive — Make sure to adjust everything in your vehicle before pulling out: seats, mirrors, headrest, seat belt, etc.
  • Know where you’re going — Plan your route before you start moving, which means avoid checking your GPS while in route.
  • Silence or put away your phone — If your phone is not on or in view, it won’t be a distraction. Beeps, chimes and rings equal distractions.
  • Ask for help — If you need directions, another station on the radio or to adjust the temperature, ask.
  • Get ready before you leave — Make sure you are groomed before leaving the house, including shaving, makeup, etc.
  • Eat before you leave — Avoid messy and complicated foods while driving. If you need something, opt for a simple snack.
  • Go smokeless — Avoid smoking and vaping while in the car.
  • Be a good passenger — Don’t bother others while they’re driving. That also means offering to help with the radio, directions, phone, etc.

THEA remains committed to helping keep the Tampa Bay area roadways safe for drivers and the scores of crews working to improve our highways and roads. By working together, we can continue to improve the mobility and safety of our area roads.