Last week I got a call from a client asking, “Did I see you driving a trailer truck down Rt. 6 earlier today?” I said “As a matter of fact you did, but you should really be keeping your eyes on the road...not on me!” I love to get out behind the wheel of any large diesel powered vehicle and if it happens to have a Moffett mounted on the back or a boom mounted up front, so much the better! It’s important not to forget our roots and it is even more important to stay in practice. No one could be a whole lot happier behind the wheel than I. Because I don’t get the opportunity to drive as much as I’d like to I always want to be extra careful. Driving, like any other fine motor skill (yes, pun intended) requires, planning, awareness, and practice. Truly good drivers are artists who treat the road as their canvas and can put their vehicle anywhere they want and do it safely. Safe drivers have systems in place that they follow to achieve consistent results and they have the discipline to follow those systems for their safety and ours. Distracted driving is a huge risk on the roads these days. Here are the big three causes:
Manual distractions that take your hands off the wheel and focus your attention on your phone, your food, or any other item you are reaching for while driving are common threats that we take too casually.
Visual distractions take your eyes off the road and reduce the time you have to react to what is happening ahead. Looking at the accident on the side of the road while you drive by increases your odds of creating your very own accident. Texting, e-mailing, or taking photographs while driving are deadly. While simply talking on a cellphone is said to result in the same level of impairment to having a blood alcohol content of .08% (the legal limit), studies say that someone on a cell phone is almost 5 ½ times more likely to be in a crash than an undistracted driver. Add in texting and a driver becomes 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident! Take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds at 55 mph and you have traveled 400 feet, essentially blind!
Cognitive distractions are all the things that take our mind off the primary task at hand when we are behind the wheel- driving. Cognitive distractions overlap with manual and visual distractions to really put us at risk. Add in drowsy drivers who are operating in an impaired state of their own and drivers who are distracted by their own vehicle’s complex infotainment systems, from stereos to GPS, and you really have a lot of ways in which our attention is stolen from the road.
We live in such a world of stimulus that it is really difficult to control our urge to respond to all the input around us. Whether you are in a 3000 lb car or an 80,000 lb truck, your life and the lives of those on the road with you depend on your focus and concentration. For your own sake, please enable one of the many apps available from your wireless service provider that prevents you from texting while driving, and consider it for your employees. Let’s meet safely...and not by accident. This will be a busy summer for traffic on the Cape and Islands and we all need our wits about us.