Awareness for distracted driving has been ongoing for decades now. Before text messaging became so prevalent, distracted driving awareness centered on not talking on your phone while driving. The proliferation of wearable and built-in Bluetooth devices have greatly reduced the need to hold a cell phone and talk while driving.
After all this time and new technologies aimed at curbing distracted driving, drivers must be more focused on the road than ever, right? That is not the case.
Distracted driving is a national epidemic
A new study shows that more drivers used their phones behind the wheel and for longer durations in 2018 than in 2017. This proved to be the case for every state except for Vermont. That is not the direction this trend should go.
Florida ranked among the states with the fewest distracted drivers at 14th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Mississippi ranked most distracted while Oregon ranked least distracted.
While there are states that have a worse distracted driver problem than Florida, there is room for improvement. Miami was the only Florida city to place on the list of the 20 worst cities for distracted driving and they placed second. Think of how much safer the roads could be if Florida’s overall ranking improved to top-10 or top-five.
Cell phones have an array of uses now
A part of the problem is that cell phones have become so much more to us than a means to make calls and send messages. Cell phones now serve as navigation units and music players, whereas it would have taken multiple devices to meet these needs in the past. A driver may think they’re safer because they’re just checking the route to their destination or changing the song, but these actions take their eyes off the road just like sending a text message does.
Great ways to avoid these distractions are pre-programming a destination or music playlist before leaving the house. Drivers should only change routes or music when safely pulled over.
In the past, making phone calls and sending text messages were some of the biggest reasons for distracted driving. Fifteen years ago, making phone calls, getting directions and using a music player required three different devices. Those devices are conveniently within cell phones of today but that doesn’t justify distracted driving. Distracted driving seems to have worsened over time but it’s not too late to buck that trend.