Did you know that more than 3,000 people were killed and 421,000 people were injured nationwide in crashes involving distracted driving? Those numbers might seem far-fetched, but in fact those numbers reflect that damage distracted driving caused nationwide in 2012.
Fast-forward a year later to 2013 and one would learn that in Tennessee alone, more than 18,000 traffic crashes and 54 fatalities occurred as a result of distracted driving.
The statistics don’t lie when it comes to the harm that losing focus while behind the wheel causes. Anytime someone texts while driving, they take their eyes off the road, hands off their wheel and the task of driving becomes second fiddle. That’s a recipe for disaster.
In an attempt to bring awareness to the problem, the Governor’s Highway Safety Office is celebrating April as National Distracted Driving Awareness and Enforcement Month. Notice the “Enforcement” part. That means that on the byways and highways in our state, law enforcement is paying attention to your driving behaviors.
“The Tennessee Highway Patrol takes driving while distracted very seriously,” said St. Bill Miller, public information officer for THP. According to Miller, troopers are looking for any unsafe action that takes away from the responsible and proper operation of a motor vehicle. Troopers are patrolling daily to spot reckless behavior.
Although it’s easy to sneak a text in here or there and think that there’s no harm for such a minor distraction. The truth is that’s just not the case. Statistics prove that it only takes a second or two for one to lose control of their vehicle or worse, lose the ability to react to other traffic.
Not only are there legal consequences to driving while distracted, there are also moral obligations we all have when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. There’s always someone else’s family, someone’s wife or husband in the vehicle next to us. Remember a driver’s responsibility doesn’t only fall on themselves, but with others around them. Doing anything that distracts that focus, especially at speeds up to and more than 50 or 60 mph is dangerous.
Remember, 54 people died in the volunteer state last year because of distracted driving. If we want to reduce that number it starts with each one of us.
Lives are important and those text messages can surely wait.