Unplug and Tune In

May 17th, 2012

It’s a typical morning commute: Traffic backed up on the highway. Sip your coffee. Grab a snack from your console. Scan texts. It’s a parking lot anyway, right? What do they mean they can’t find the presentation files?! Text your associates back. Traffic is still not moving. Come on, I’ve got a meeting to make. Glance at GPS. Any alternatives to avoid congestion? Check the radio: nope, just traffic volume. There goes another motorcyclist, zooming down the shoulder. Wish I could do that. Cell phone goes off. Bluetooth isn’t working. Oh well, no cops around, right? Car isn’t really moving anyways. It’ll be quick. Your kids need a ride after school. That means leaving work early. Man, I’ve got to get into the office NOW!

Sound familiar? During National Road Safety Week (May 15 to 21, 2012), the Canada Safety Council is targeting distracted driving. One study commissioned by TheSteelAlliance and the CSC found that 80 per cent of drivers admit to multi-tasking behind the wheel. That could include eating, drinking, fiddling with your radio or GPS, talking on your cell phone or to your passengers, texting or even daydreaming.

Did you know?

  • While you’re texting, your eyes are off the road for 4.6 out of six seconds
  • Driving while texting makes you 23 times more likely to crash
  • Drivers who talk on a cell phone miss about 50 per cent of what's going on around them, visually, and are four times more likely to get into a crash.

These ICBC videos drive home the point:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gDVFE5tRBWU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaAhTUn-rOA&feature=player_embedded

So, what are some strategies for preventing distracted driving? The best advice is to stay focused. Pull over if you need to text, program your GPS or use your cell phone. However, if you must use a cell phone, use a hands-free model. Even then,

  • Keep the conversations brief.
  • Keep a consistently safe speed (research shows drivers on cell phones tend to vary their speed up and down).
  • Make sure your device is securely fixed to your vehicle and doesn’t obstruct your view.

If your cell phone rings while you’re on the road:

  • Let it go to voicemail. Better yet, turn the ringer off.
  • Ask a passenger to pick up the call.
  • Pull over before you answer.
  • Focus on the road.
  • Leave a message on your voicemail letting callers know you'll call them back when safe to do so, as you may be driving.

When we drive distracted, we not only put our life at risk, we endanger vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. No text or phone call is worth a life. As ICBC suggests, “before taking your eyes off the road, have a word with yourself.”

Sources:

Keep Your Eyes on the Road, Canada Safety Council

Distracted Driving, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia

RCMP public warning: Shalendra Kumar SHARMA, 43, of Surrey, BC, was released from custody on May 9, 2012, and is now awaiting trial for sexual assault and other violent crimes against women. More information.


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