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Drive…or Don’t: Don’t Let Distractions Take Away the Privilege

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Did you know that mobile phones have actually been around since the 1970s? Of course, they look and function much differently now than they did then. Today’s phones are much more portable and have more functionality, making them more popular than ever.  In fact, in 2004, more than 90% of households in the U.S. had an operational landline phone. In 2019, it was little more than 40%. That’s according to data provided by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which has been tracking phone ownership in the U.S. as a by-product of its biannual National Health Interview Survey since 2004.

Because they are so small, many of us have a habit of using them on the go. Sometime when you are a passenger in a car, look around—you will probably see several drivers talking on their phones, or worse—typing or reading something on them. For this reason, they are what people immediately think of when they hear the term “distracted driving.”

Although many states now ban texting and driving, and even talking on the phone while driving, those aren’t the only distractions that cause accidents. Anything that takes your attention off the road—controlling the radio or car temperature, eating or drinking, dealing with kids, talking to passengers, reading a map, applying makeup, combing your hair, or shaving (yes, shaving)—can cause accidents too. All of these things fall under the category of distracted driving because all of them can cause accidents. In fact, in the U.S. in 2018, over 2,841 people were killed and an estimated 400,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The good news is these numbers are lower than they were in 2014.

As more and more people recognize that there are a number of distractions that can cause accidents, there are more initiatives aimed at prevention of distracted driving rather than just using a mobile phone while driving. Mobile phones are just an additional. Perhaps The Doors said it best: "Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel." Do that and you'll have a better shot at being accident-free.

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