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National Distracted Driving Awareness Month Campaign Materials

For additional materials download the pdf file not only does it have the Communique form, but includes distracted driving color posters in English and Spanish for your organization’s use. Be sure to continue to read the Friday Safety Briefs the April 1st issue is all about Distracted Driving and the April 8th issue is about Work Zone Safety.

Distracted Driving

Almost every driver thinks he or she is a very good driver. If you are a “good” driver, or, if you “BELIEVE” you’re a good driver, here is something you CAN believe. Driving today is dangerous, even for very good drivers, because there are so many inexperienced drivers, very young drivers, drivers in a rush, distracted drivers, angry drivers and just so many vehicles on the highways.

Driving during the time that you are “distracted” or your attention is “divided”, you are driving poorly and you are certainly not watching out for other distracted drivers. You are not super-human. No one is. There are numerous distractions such as “day-dreaming”, problem-solving, texting, talking on the phone, changing lanes, reaching for something, eating, etc.

Ever hear the terms “passive” and “active” referred to in other applications? We could use these terms in discussions about driving distractions. Examples of “passive distraction” could be simply that the driver is deep in thought about a problem or a possible solution to a problem, ill or fatigued. “Active” distraction might include reaching for the radio, texting, reading e-mail on your phone, reading printed material, etc. Talking on the phone is probably both “active” and “passive”. When applied to this or any other activity, the effect, whether “active” or “passive,” is the same. They both have an effect on the primary task.

Multi-tasking has become prevalent in our society. Most people probably think they are good at it. Undoubtedly, there are some simple things that can be done simultaneously. However, try this “simple” test – snap your fingers on one hand and rub your thumb and index finger together on the other. Can you do it well, without pausing one? There are difficult things that can be done seemingly at the same time, but in reality, the person is quickly switching back and forth between the two tasks. The brain is forced to pause and refocus in the interim between changes in tasks. The brain cannot fully focus when multi-tasking and this causes the total time to expand to completion and predisposes the tasks to error. There have been recent studies on the subject but common sense tells us that if the task is dangerous, don’t try to multi-task. You need all of your attention directed at the dangerous task. In this case, that’s driving. There are countless other examples of peoples’ activities that would be even more dangerous if attention were divided or distracted. You would probably have difficulty attracting the attention of a mountain climber during a dangerous climb, or an airplane pilot during take-off. Driving is ALSO dangerous – believe it!

In addition, there are “forces” in action while you’re moving down the street or highway. And speed has a tremendous effect on those forces. These forces do not allow for the time it takes to refocus if your attention is divided. Any quick maneuvers and the forces take over. Crash reconstruction reveals many things and we have a plethora of information from these and other studies. If you have ever had a “close call” or a “near miss” and you were lucky, learn from it, because the next time might not be forgiving.

Make a conscious decision to pay strict attention to your driving, every time you start to drive. Put the phone down, set aside any other activity, leave in time or just be late but don’t rush. And don’t let your mind wrestle with a problem or you’ll be wrestling with a mass of twisted metal.

Professional Safety Consulting

Professional Safety Consulting