I saw an item in the news recently and had to share – and, yes, I’m in total Moir Mom Mode (or M3) after reading the NY Times item on distracted driving and risky behavior.
Let’s talk about managing risk …
When you get in the car, do you buckle up?
Sure you do. I’ll bet you also make your passengers (kids!) buckle up. Why? As my generation would say, “We didn’t have seat belts and we turned out ok.” Absolutely, great logic. That makes total sense. (Warning: you’ve entered the sarcasm zone.)
What are the odds of you getting in a car accident on any given day? Probably small, right? According to Forbes, the car insurance industry estimates you’ll file a collision claim only about every 18 years (2011 data). No biggy, you’ll probably be fine today. Seriously.
So, again, why buckle up? Even if you have an accident today, chances are it won’t be deadly – the same data says only 3 out of every 1,000 accidents involve a fatality. It’s all good, right? The odds are totally in your favor. If you get in the car today, you’ll likely return home safely. No need to take any precautions since you made it home yesterday in one piece.
Before we jump in the car, though, let’s break down the possible consequences of an accident:
- Best case? Minor fender bender with no major damage, no injury, no insurance impact. But (!) you lose the time and incur the stress of an “oh, crud” moment (I’m trying to rein in my potty mouth here, insert your word-of-choice).
- Likely case? In your mash-up, there’s enough damage to require insurance to repair things (the average claim in 2010 was $23,750), there are injuries to you or the other party, you earn a traffic ticket if you’re at fault, you get increased insurance premiums and, the above “oh, crud” stress and time impact.
- Worst case? Mayhem strikes and one of y’all don’t go past Go or collect your $200, there’s major guilt for the drivers, major financial impact, loss of license (that last seems trivial in comparison to the first item in this list, doesn’t it?). No need to even talk about the “oh, crud” stress.
Do I need to ask again “why buckle up?” Point made? The odds may be low of an accident but the consequences can be life altering. Smart risk management of a low probability/high impact situation says you do something to reduce both the probability and the consequences, especially if it doesn’t cost you anything. You’re smart, so you take precautions to prevent accidents like buckling up in case the dice roll against you.
When we get on the road, we’re one of many drivers. How do you decrease your chances of an accident?
- You drive smart with good defensive driving habits.
- You don’t drive under the influence (the #1 cause of accidents, BTW).
- You don’t drive tired, either. It’s as dangerous as driving under the influence.
- You don’t speed, uhhh, much, and you obey traffic signs (because that soooo makes up for the eensy-weensy speeding, snark!).
- You keep your car in safe driving condition.
Sure, you say, “I’m all that and a bag of chips when I’m on the road, it’s all good.”
But what about handling your devices?
Do you talk on the phone while driving? If so, I hope you’re at least hands-free (which is the law in countless cities like here in San Antonio, 14 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam and the US Virgin Islands). Thirty eight states even ban any phone use by novice drivers.
Do you text? How about taking or looking at pics, tweeting, checking out Facebook or posting on Instagram/Snapchat/Vine? Checking your Clash of Clans village? Yelping to find the address of the restaurant/store you’re going to? Surfing the web? Picking a playlist?
Nearly 25% of auto accidents involve a cell phone (all data below from www.onlineschools.com, which cites government data; the NYTimes item above has different info which may be explained by the source and the context of the info).
- Texting makes a crash up to 23x more likely.
- On average, you are distracted for 5 seconds if you text while driving; meanwhile, your car travels the length of a football field (at 55 mph). Boom!
- Dialing makes a crash 2.8x more likely. Wait, what was that number? I know, it’s in my contact list, I just need to scroll for it…
- Talking or listening makes a crash 1.3x more likely. See what I mean about a gabfest?
- Reaching for a device makes a crash 1.4x more likely. Geez, even picking up the thing is distracting.
- 34% of drivers admit they have texted while driving, 52% say they have talked on a cell phone while driving, 20% say they have surfed the web while driving. (I’m not sure I believe any of these…. Based on my informal observations, I’d say those numbers should be way higher. Why wouldn’t folks admit they’ve texted/phoned/surfed while driving? Maybe….errrr, because they know it’s not safe?)
- 77% of young adults think they can drive safely while texting and 55% say it’s easy to text while driving. 48% say they’ve seen their parents do it. There’s a reason why the majority of states have banned cell phone use for new drivers.
I’ve made my point. Now, let’s recap.
You buckle up because the consequences of an auto accident can be life altering.
And you don’t text or fiddle with your device while you drive, right? Take the It Can Wait pledge and share it so others do the same.
It’s time we put driving while distracted in the same category as driving while under the influence – it’s not safe and nothing you can think of justifies the risk. If it’s that important, pull over.
Need more info on how to manage your teens’ driving? Check out www.itcanwait.com or www.textinganddrivingsafety.com
Drive safe – You matter to me!