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We live in a world with information readily available at our fingertips 24/7. While this is a great convenience, it can be dangerous if you are behind the wheel.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, at any given second in the United States, an estimated 660,000 people are driving while using a cell phone or manipulating an electronic device. In 2012, over 3,000 people died and around 420,000 more were injured in automobile accidents involving a distracted driver.
Distracted driving includes any action that takes your eyes off the road. While distracted driving includes everything from cell phone use to grooming, texting is considered the most dangerous act by far. When a person is texting, it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention.
In Kentucky, it is against the law for drivers to text while behind the wheel. The state has also banned all cell phone use for novice drivers and bus drivers.
Even if you’re not responding or composing a text, reading one can be just as dangerous. It takes the average person five seconds to read a text message. During that five seconds, if the person is driving 55 miles per hour, they could drive the length of a football field without paying attention to the road and traffic around them.
The best way to prevent distracted driving is not to do it and encourage your family members and friends to limit their cell phone usage while they are driving. If you are tempted, turn your cell phone off when you get in the driver’s seat or put it in a compartment in your vehicle that you can’t reach.
If you are a parent of a beginning driver, remind them that if a law enforcement officer finds them texting or talking while behind the wheel, it could delay them getting their license or cause their license to be suspended.
For more information on family safety topics, contact the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Service.
Source: Nicole Peritore, UK program coordinator for Health Education through Extension Leadership and Distraction.gov
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.
Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.