The Youth are at Risk
According to the CDC Injury Center, over 2,800 people were killed, and approximately 400,000 were injured in car accidents involving distracted driving. However, amongst those involved in or fatally lost to an auto accident, youth and young adults ranked the highest likelihood of being involved in a distracted driving accident. In 2019, cell phone distractions, including texting and emailing, were more common amongst teenagers and young adults 18 or older. Transportation Risk Behaviors Among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019 However, drivers between the ages of 15-19 were more likely to be distracted while driving than any other age group. 9% of teens who died from fatal crashes were distracted while driving.
Many states are cracking down on distracted driving, including Georgia, with the inaugural Hand-Free Georgia Act, which fines drivers for operating cellular devices while behind the wheel.
What is Distracted Driving? The eye. The hand. The mind.
So, what exactly is distracted driving? Distracted driving comes in three flavors: the eye, hand, and the mind. Visual distracted driving occurs when you take your eye off of the road. Visual distracted driving can be as simple as trying to change the song in your brand-new car that you have not quite familiarized yourself with just yet. It is not just the youth! Everyone is guilty of visual distracted driving! It can also be taking a quick second to check on the kids in the second or third row of your vehicle or having a laugh out loud moment with a friend.
Manual distracted driving occurs when you take your hands off of the wheel. Imagine having that bag of Chick Fil La in your lap and you heading to that next meeting. While at a red light, you start to sift through the bag to grab a hot chicken nugget or waffle fry and dip it into your favorite sauce. The light changes. You place the bag in the passenger seat and drive with your left hand on the wheel while satisfying your hunger. You take one bite. One turns into two. Two bites turn into three, and the next second you know, you are in a fender bender with Polynesian sauce all over your shirt.
Lastly, cognitive distracted driving occurs when your mind wanders away from you while you are driving. Now, you are human, and at times you will find yourself driving along the road, and for a brief moment, you forget that you are behind the wheel. However, extended periods of cognitive distracted driving may be an indication of a medical issue. If you frequently experience cognitive or mental breaks while driving, talk to your health care provider to ensure your safety and others.
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