Distracted Driving: The Victimless Crime?

We are all guilty. Sheepishly peeking down at our laps while at a stoplight to check for a reply to that last text, or holding that bacon cheeseburger precariously in one hand hoping the next bite makes it to your mouth before the avalanche of ketchup, lettuce and mustard falls onto those dress pants you just had dry cleaned and pressed this morning.

“In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.” ¹

Land of the Haste… is what our nation has morphed into and could be our country’s new motto. Rushed to send off that final, urgent email of the day that could cost you the deal. Hurried to get those earnings to the bank before today’s cutoff time. We always feel rushed.

Conducting our day to day business in such a hurried manner can be traced back to grammar school where said mannerisms are engrained into our minds. Remember your punishment for not turning that Math assignment in on time? Detention, lost recess time etc. However, in the real world, much dire consequences often await those employees failing to complete the obligations of their work duties in a timely manner. Docked pay, probation and even termination are punishments that tend to replace lost recess time.

Rather than risk being on the receiving end of any of the aforementioned punishments, we have resorted to finding ways throughout our day to replace lost time, or in essence, catching up. Therefore, we feel pressured to multitask. Employers tend to hire prospective candidates based on their multitasking capabilities. Efficient multitasking is demanded across a majority of industries and is often a trait promoted in the workplace.

A multitude of variables often contribute to distracted driving, multitasking remains the most significant cause of distraction when getting behind the wheel of an automobile. According to the Official US Government Website for Distracted Driving Distraction.gov, distracted driving is defined as: “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.”

Common distractions during the operation of a motor vehicle are eating, cell phone activity, grooming and talking to passengers. Per the same government entity, texting remains the single most significant distraction due to said action’s cognitive attention required of a driver. Granted, we certainly cannot assume all this activity taking place behind the wheel is business related, or to be blamed on one’s employer. Many distractions can be attributed to the recreational use of devices while driving. For instance, 25% of teens respond to at least one text message while driving, according to Distraction.gov.

The Panacea for Distracted Driving?

Ray Lahood, the US Transportation Secretary recently released the “Blueprint for ending Distracted Driving.” Although many states currently retain distracted driving legislation, this plan calls for remaining states to enact and enforce this legislation. Additionally, the plan calls for new curriculum to educate novice drivers of the dangers of distracted driving. Last and not least, the auto industry is being challenged to adopt new guidelines regarding technology being used within their vehicles.