Look at you with your fancy new smart car that tells you when someone is in your blind spot, has a back-up camera to give you a better view, allows you to make hands-free phone calls, and will even read your text messages to you. Now you will be completely safe and free of distractions while driving right?
Actually no, more than 30 studies have shown that hands-free devices being installed in cars today are still no safer than using hand-held devices.
Your car is ringing at you, and it flusters you. Why is your husband calling you at two in the afternoon? What is wrong? Did he get in a car accident? You fumble trying to hit the answer button on your steering wheel taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds. Your husband informs you that he got off work early and is going to head to the gym before coming home, and you acknowledge before talking about dinner plans. You hang up ending the five-minute conversation and return to driving.
That’s right, you return to driving. During those five minutes, your car was moving down the road, but you were not actively aware of your driving because you were distracted. While you may have been watching the road, what you were taking in of your surroundings downsized to a smaller view.
While you were worrying about the nature of your husband’s call, you were not focused on the road, and then when you began discussing dinner plans, your mind went to various food options and not the road. These moments of distractions, whether seconds or minutes long, are long enough for you to miss a stop sign or run a red light and cause an accident. Unless you are fully focused on the road, then you are not distraction-free.
Having a text message pop up on your touch screen display rather than your phone is still a distraction because for most of the cars you have to take your eyes off the road and click read or ignore. Smart cars do have those nice safety features to help you when backing up and in your blind spots, but it is still important that you pay just as much, if not more, attention than before. Due to the fact that so many drivers are driving distracted today, it takes your full attention to watch out and avoid colliding with them.
This can be a hard task to do. Individuals who text and drive aren’t like drunk drivers where you can see them coming from a mile away. Those who text and drive could be distraction-free one second and then texting the next. It is so much more unpredictable than drunk driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. The consequences of these accidents reach far beyond the actual impact. They can affect our families, friends, and communities long after that crash.
Our goal at Pekin Insurance is to go Beyond the expected® for our customers, agents, and communities. Our new campaign, “Focus to the Finish,” will bring attention to the growing problem of distracted driving and hopefully, inspire drivers to keep their focus on driving until they reach their finish line.