Column - Harmless actions can have deadly resultsInattention is killing us. The major cause of roadway deaths and injuries is now various forms of inattention.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
Inattention is killing us.
The major cause of roadway deaths and injuries is now various forms of inattention. And such deaths are not limited to roadways. They’re happening on rail lines and in the air. Two terrible commuter-rail accidents were caused by inattention, and in one of them the man in charge was “texting” when the crash happened. The commuter jet that crashed recently in New York was piloted by a man who was apparently flirting with his female co-pilot, not paying any attention at all to the critical landing-preparation maneuvers.
Fortunately, Minnesota has tightened laws regarding inattentive driving, including the use of cell phones and “texting” behavior. The trouble is, enforcement is difficult if not impossible. People, sadly, will do as they do, time and again.
Just sit at a sidewalk cafe and watch the traffic. The number of inattentive and distracted drivers is utterly alarming: people leaning down to fiddle with their music or to put out cigarettes; people getting smoochy-coochy with each other in the front seat; people talking on a cell phone while eating a sandwich; and – worse – people texting away like crazy.
Driver inattention contributes to 80 percent of all vehicle crashes, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s about 4 million accidents each year nationwide. The NHTSA estimates one in 10 drivers is talking on a cell phone at any given time. The highest risk group is comprised of drivers between the ages of 19-34. They are involved in 67 percent of inattention-caused crashes.
In our busy world, we have all had to “multi-task” many times during a typical day. Most of us, let’s face it, are guilty of doing just that now and then while driving. The only way to alleviate the dangers of inattention is to keep reminding ourselves to keep our eyes and our minds firmly on the road. All it takes is a split second of inattention to end up in a ditch or metal-to-metal against someone else’s vehicle. And, not to forget, we are endangering our lives, the lives of our loved ones and the lives of others sharing the road with us.
The latest issue of AAA Living magazine has some good tips for safe, non-distractive driving.
These tips are worth reviewing, worth remembering:
•Keep your eyes on the road.
•Keep your hands on the steering wheel while in motion.
•Do not talk on the phone or text while driving, even with a hands-free device. If you must phone while traveling, pull over and stop the car.
•Wait until you stop to operate your radio or media player.
•Program your GPS system before you drive.
•Put a video in your kids’ entertainment system before you go.
•Turn off and stow your PDA.
•Do not turn toward the back seat to take care of children’s needs or for attempts to discipline them.
Most of all, we should remember the most “harmless” actions can often cause the most horrific accidents – accidents that don’t have to happen if we all start to pay attention.