Readers Respond

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Driven to Distraction


/ Iowa State Trooper, Cherokee

Driving is an activity that requires your undevided attention. Each year more than 3 million people are injured in vehicle crashes and distracted drivers account for about 25% of all vehicle crashes.

It's estimated that a driver makes 200 decisions for every mile of driving. If you are mentally solving business problems, trying to referee a family argument or talking on the phone, while driving, you're adding to the decision making process. In the span of 3-4 seconds at 55 mph a car will travel the length of a football field. Also, factors such as fatigue, weather and traffic conditions can make distractions more dangerous.

Have you ever because of "almost" getting in an accident, swerved suddenly to avoid an accident, slammed on the brakes because you didn't see the car in front of you stop or drifted into another lane of traffic? These are clues that you are driving while distracted. The next time you decide to read a road map or a work report or talk on the cell phone ask yourself: who's driving?

So what can we do to make driving safer for everyone? Make sure that everyone or everything that could be a distraction is secure. Don't wait until you start driving to plan your route or attend to personal grooming. Do this before you leave and leave early, you'll be less stressed. Postpone cell phone conversations and text messaging until you arrive at your destination.

The Iowa State Patrol urges motorists to drive safely and recognize when you may be driving distracted. Use some common sense and help keep our roadways safe.