Too many people I know are distracted drivers. It’s sad. It’s not OK.
My takeaway after reaching out and talking with them is that many feel as though (1) they are more important human beings than everyone else; (2) they are a better drivers than everyone else or, (3) because of the way they handle themselves as a distracted drivers, they’re doing it safely.
Here’s a reality check that everyone should appreciate and understand. On all counts, these people are wrong and in some cases, dead wrong.
I hear this all the time:
“Mitch, I’m an excellent driver. I’ve never had an accident. I’m careful when I live stream or update social media while driving.”
I just have to roll my eyes when I hear this. Look, here’s the deal. Despite how great you think you are at driving, there is no such thing as a good distracted driver. Let’s look at the facts:
There’s a reason why 4,000 to 6,000 people are killed, and another 400,000 to 600,000 people are injured in the U.S. each year because of distracted driving (experts predict the true unreported numbers are much higher). To put things into perspective, drunk driving only injures 290,000 each year.
Speaking of drunk driving, most drunk drivers tell others, “I’m fine. I can drive.” Distracted drivers do the same thing except the results of their recklessness injure two to three times the number of people each year. When it comes to injuries, distracted drivers are more dangerous to the general public than drunk drivers!
Researchers at the University of Utah found that talking on a cell phone quadruples your risk of an accident, about the same as if you were driving drunk. That risk doubles again, to eight times normal, if you are texting. In today’s world, I’m going to suggest that because of the addictive nature and engagement level of social media (pics, video, live streaming…), the true risks today is substantially higher than texting when it comes to social.
Another thing I hear all the time is:
“Mitch, I use Bluetooth or mount my phone on the dash of my car. I’m hands-free! What’s the problem?”
Well, I’ll tell you what the problem is. Even hands-free driving is unsafe distracted driving, and you’re kidding yourself and putting others at risk if you think otherwise. Here are the facts.
A new study shows that it can take 27 seconds for a driver using a voice-activated system to regain full alertness after making a command from behind the wheel. That means a car going 25 mph can travel the length of three football fields before a driver’s brain fully recovers from the act of dialing a phone, dictating a text or tweet, or participating in any other type of distracted driving. Because it only takes a single second for a distracted driver to harm or kill an innocent bystander, driving hands-free is not the solution. Click here to read the article and learn more.
The last thing I often hear when I reach out to someone who is engaged in daily distracted driving is the following:
“Hey, mind your own business. The only person I’m going to hurt is me so just leave me alone.”
Sorry pal. Don’t think that’s ever going to happen. It’s not about you.
If this last response is you, then do us all a favor and get your head out of your ass and start making better decisions. Collisions, injuries, and deaths caused by distracted drivers harm everyone. Innocent bystanders like our children trying to cross the street might be your next victim.
And one more thing. People may be watching what you’re doing. If you’re an influencer or public person, there’s a good chance that others will want to mimic what and how you do things. You’re setting a terrible example and sending the wrong message to your community and audience.
Let’s change our behavior. For some of you, it’s time to start acting like an adult and stop with all of the above bullshit excuses.
It’s never OK to participate in distracted driving so just don’t do it. Not while driving and not while sitting at a red light or stop sign.
I invite you to watch this video (below) and share it with your family and friends. Also support the good people over at StopDD.today EndDD.org and ItCanWait.com and become an active part of the distracted driving awareness community.
Lead by example and turn your phone off before turning your car on. Be smart, think about others and do the right thing.
P.S.- So what should you do if a friend, or someone you follow online consistently puts his or her self-interest over the safety of the community by always engaging in distracted driving?
Because I believe that often times, people just don’t appreciate how dangerous this type of activity is, reach out to them and share the resources at the above sites. Raising awareness and education will go a long ways towards changing behavior. Hopefully, this will get them to stop distracted driving.
If not, I would simply block them from your platforms and stop supporting all that they do. Don’t show up for online or offline events when they speak. Let them know there are consequences to this self-centered and dangerous conduct.
For me, I do all of the above and depending on the severity of the problem, I’ll sometimes call out a habitual distracted driver. I believe that as adults and being part of a responsible society, it’s important we hold each other accountable. I shared my thoughts about this very topic of accountability earlier this year in my post, “Why It’s Socially Responsible To Call Out Habitual Distracted Drivers.”