17:00 PM

Distracted Driving: Safety Experts Want Your Attention


People know driving intoxicated is bad, yet many still choose to drive "intexticated." Texting-while-driving is among the many distractions that endanger motorists on the road every day.

"A distracted driver, even one whose eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel -- is similar to an intoxicated one," said Gene LaDoucer, director of public affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group. "When a driver's attention is diverted from the road, their reaction-time slows, situation awareness decreases and lives are at risk."

Top 3 Risky Distractions

  • Cellphone use
  • In-vehicle technology
  • Passengers in the vehicle

Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, or picking your next podcast can result in a fatal injury. Over 22 percent of distraction-affected crashes involved confirmed use of a smartphone. This underscores that while smartphone use is most frequently blamed for driver distraction, there are many other causes of distraction-affected crashes.

According data from The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, nearly 3,000 people were killed and 400,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018, the last year data is available.

"All it takes is one distraction pulling your attention away from safety driving for a second and tragedy can strike," said LaDoucer. "AAA urges all drivers to pay attention and focus on the road anytime their behind the wheel."

Sobering statistics

  • Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
  • Five seconds of reading an email or text is like driving across a football field while blindfolded.
  • Mental distractions last longer than you think and can cause a dangerous crash or fatality. Mental distraction can last up to 27 seconds after dialing, texting or changing the radio station.
  • New teen drivers are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. In Nebraska, drivers under age 18 with a permit or intermediate license are prohibited from using any electronic communications devices, including cell phones.

Top Tips

  • Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. Also, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
  • Disable or stow electronics. Never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.
  • Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a "designated texter." Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.
  • Take the pledge to drive distraction free or learn more about distracted driving at aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted.

Nebraska Law

  • Text messaging is prohibited for all drivers. This law carries a $100 fine.
  • The use of a handheld wireless device to read, write, or send communication while driving is prohibited.
  • Fines range form $200-$500 and three points against a driver's license.

"Fatalities, injuries, fines, points and higher insurance rates can all be avoided by focusing your attention on the road when driving," concluded LaDoucer.