Distracted driving.  If you haven’t heard about it, you have been living in a bubble or, well, very distracted.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), in 2012 alone, 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driving.  In addition, 421,000 people were injured as a result of people driving distracted.  I’ve represented some of those folks and their families.  In 2011, almost one in every five crashes involving injury involved distracted driving.  In December 2012 alone, more than 171 BILLION text messages were sent.

In 2011, 69% of all U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported they talked on their cell phone while driving in the past 30 days.  The percentage in Europe was only 21%.  Why?  Nearly half of all U.S. high school students 16 or older admit to texting or emailing while driving.  And it’s important to note that “distracted driving” does not just equate to cell phone use.  There are three main forms of distracted driving: (1) visual (taking your eyes off the road; (2) manual (taking your hands off the wheel); and (3) cognitive (taking your mind off of driving).

Distracted driving It’s a problem and it is not going away.

I was prompted to write this post for a couple of reasons.  First, while driving today, I approached a line of slowed/stopped cars in the middle of a roadway with no traffic stops or signals.  I then realized why – a group of geese (mom and babies) were crossing the road.  Just then, a lady clearly not paying attention, ignored all of us and plowed over the geese.  This was a grown adult, not a teenaged driver.  I was so thankful it was geese, not children.  I was so glad my children weren’t in the car to see this happen.

Second, while at a stop light with my kids in the car, I picked up my cell phone to see who had called me.  To me, I wasn’t driving distracted as I was stopped at a light.  But my daughter reminded me that I should look at the road even when the car isn’t moving.  She is right.  We should always be aware of what is going on around us, even when we are stopped.  I put my cell phone in the back seat with her.

We have spent a lot of time focusing on talking to teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving – and that has to continue.  But we also, as parents, have to take responsibility.  We have to know that our kids watch us, always, and they learn from us.  If we pick up our phone while in the car, how can we then tell our children not to?  I am proud to be a part of a national distracted driving campaign aimed and making our roads safer.  I’m excited that we are starting to talk to groups of parents more.  A lot of the time, the teenagers will report that they know better but their parents do not.

Don’t forget to be a solid role model for our young drivers.

*This was originally posted on The Legal Examiner, June 18, 2015.


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