Technology has made communication easier, but it can also be distracting for drivers. Every day, ten people across the country, on average, are killed by a distracted driver.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to AAA, 90 percent of drivers say driving while distracted is dangerous, but a majority of those same people surveyed said they themselves are guilty of it.
Roscoe Police Officer Chris Wilder says the worst offenders on the road are the newest drivers: teens.
“Unfortunately, the newer drivers are the ones that I’ve seen texting, because they can’t put their phones down,” he said.
Wilder says his daughter will become one this summer. Distracted driving is the number one reason teens get into crashes, according to AAA.
“I don’t even want the phone going with her, personally,” he said. “If it does, it stays in your purse. There’s no reason for it to be out. That’s what I tell her.”
When drivers are distracted, the brain goes into an “inattentional blindness,” meaning they miss things right in front of them because they’re not fully focused on the road ahead.
Wilder says parents should be aware that if their child is behind the wheel, they should expect an immediate reply.
“We want to know where our kids are at, which we should, but don’t call them in the middle of that drive. Don’t text them,” he said.
Teens aren’t the only culprits. According to AAA, the human brain cannot multi-task the way we would like.
“And if you think about it, if you’re talking with someone on the phone, your listening to what they’re saying and then you’re thinking about what you’re going to be responding to that. So your task of driving is not the first foremost task that you are doing,” said Charlene Sligting-Yorke, Traffic Safety Program Manager for AAA.
“If you are operating a motor vehicle and using a celluar device, it doesn’t matter if it’s hands-free if you cause bodily harm to somebody, you’ll be charged with a misdeamor and God-forbid you kill somebody you’ll be charged with a felony and potential time of 4 years in prison.”
Beginning in July, distracted driving will be upgraded to a moving violation. Three citations for this could result in a suspended license.
Accidents that are caused by distracted driving could result in a misdemeanor or felony, if it results in a death.