Hey, I get it—we have the technology and the ability to talk to someone while we’re driving, and almost everyone does it. I’ve done it while commuting to and from my home. Sometimes, the only chance I have to return calls to friends or family is when I’m driving. Pull up beside me at a stoplight and you might see my lips moving as I talk into my Bluetooth. But what you won’t see me doing is dialing a number or holding my phone. It’s all done through voice activation and hands-free.
That makes it a bit less dangerous, but I admit not totally safe. The number of traffic accidents in Utah is up about 8 percent this year, and fatalities are up 5 percent. Most of those increases aren’t happening on highways—they’re on surface streets and in neighborhoods. The problem is that we have become increasingly distracted as drivers because of our cell phones.
Distracted driving isn’t a new problem. I remember years ago heading south on I-215 out of Bountiful when a car in front of me was swerving from the right hand lane into the emergency lane, not viciously, but just going back and forth. As I passed to get around the car, I could see a woman putting her mascara on, and I recognized her because she was someone quite prominent on local TV. I thought it was fortunate that THAT distraction didn’t result in an accident. I’m also sure it wasn’t this person’s normal routine.
It doesn’t stop there. Eating, smoking or rocking out to loud music in your car can be dangerous and distracting, though those activities aren’t against the law. But NEVER TEXT WHILE DRIVING, which is against the law and should be.
The point is that while you’re driving, make sure you’re focused on that.
For decades, we’ve heard about the importance of wearing seat belts, no matter how long or short our drives might be. Still, over this past weekend, dozens of motorists died in accidents around the country when they were thrown from their vehicles as they rolled. These individuals were not wearing seat belts. Now, the no texting or dialing cell phones while driving campaigns have intensified. We hear the same old message all the time for the same reason we hear the same old sermons in church—we still don’t get it!!
As the holiday seasons draw near, with more and more trips to visit with family or to shop, think about the little things you can do to prevent traffic injuries or fatalities. Don’t text and drive, don’t dial and drive, try to avoid using your cell phones at all while driving, and wear your seat belts.