McQuiston: Distracted Driving

By ALLEN MCQUISTON
The Jemez Agency

You’ve seen them on the roads; you might even know a few of them.

And you could be one yourself.

Distracted drivers come in all shapes, sizes, ages and experience levels. Even if you’re not one today, you could become one at any moment — in the time it takes you to answer your cell phone or check the kids in the back seat when you’re driving.

If you or someone else you know thinks you can drive just fine while talking on your phone, think about this: In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. And it’s not just on our roadways. With the holiday season upon us be aware that it’s becoming a problem in parking lots, too. Each year, more than 60,000 people are hurt in parking lot accidents. Distracted driving plays a large part, according to the National Safety Council. And this time of year, with parking lots filled to the brim, the problem gets even worse.

So what is distracted driving?

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player, ok these three show my age, but you get the point.

Distractions on the road come in many forms, according to www.distraction.gov, a U.S. Department of Transportation website. There are three main kinds of distractions:

  • Visual – taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual –taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive – taking your mind off what you’re doing.

But, because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. To help you avoid all three kinds of distractions the next time you’re behind the wheel of your car, here are a few tips:

  • Put your phone in silent mode and store it away from the front seat or in a purse or bag. This helps reduce temptation.
  • Have a passenger answer your phone or return text messages for you.
  • If a call or a text can’t wait, pull over in a safe spot before using your phone.
  • This one seems obvious, but finish shaving or applying makeup before you get in the car!
  • If you’re emotional, wait until you’ve calmed down before hitting the road.

Avoid road rage. You’ll be happier and safer. Whenever you’re on the road, it’s not a time to multi-task. Focus on driving safely.

I welcome your feedback at amcquiston@thejemezagency.com

For more insurance related columns, visit our blog on our website at www.thejemezagency.com

Each week we have a drawing to give away two tickets to the Reel Deal Movie Theater to one of our loyal clients. It’s our way of saying thanks to the folks of Los Alamos for over 50 years of their support. This week’s winner is Kenneth Armbruster! Please stop by the office to pick up your tickets.

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