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The morning commute. Some days, we might not like where we are going but we do want to get there safely. Today is the start of Drive Safely to Work Week.
The number one cause for most crashes is being distracted. This can be by taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel or taking your mind off of what you are doing.
With cell phones, GPS systems, DVD players, and Ipods and MP3 players in the car with us, we are distracted like never before when we’re behind the wheel. Eating, reading and trying to write also are potentially deadly distractions. One morning, I saw a gentleman shaving as he was driving. Aside from shaving, these are things that we all have done to one extent or another while driving.
In 2009, nearly 6,000 people died and almost 500,000 people were injured because someone wasn’t paying attention to the road. According to the Institute for Highway Safety, drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. A study by the National Safety Council showed drivers using cellphones had slower reaction times to a vehicle braking in front of them than drivers with a blood-alcohol level of .08.
So what can we do about this? One obvious suggestion would be to pull over and take that important call, text or reset the GPS. If you are the only one in the car, then leave the DVD off. Give yourself some extra time to eat at home or in the restaurant parking lot after hitting the drive-through. If books are your thing, buy a book on CD and listen to it.
Some other ways to make our commutes safer are:
There are some who would argue it only takes a couple seconds to text or call or whatever. But let me remind you that it only takes a couple seconds for something bad to happen to you and your loved ones or to other drivers on the road because you were distracted.
So please, be mindful of what you are doing and be aware of what is happening around you and have a safe drive to work.
Donny Gill is a health educator at the Hardin County Health Department and can be reached at email@example.com. His column appears the first Monday of the month.