Safety First

Don’t Gamble When the Stakes are Your Life

By Mike Costigan

When I see someone driving while looking down at their cell phone, I wonder if they would place a large bet of let’s say $1,000 or more on the blackjack or roulette table. I would assume not. But everyday people jump behind the wheel of their vehicle and drive distracted.

Every year more than 3,000 people lose their lives to distracted driving – 400 of those caused by drivers using their cell phones. In fact, 25 percent of all distracted accidents are related to cell phone usage.

Studies have shown that reading or sending a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. To put things in perspective, let’s convert five seconds into distance at various miles per hour.

The typical neighborhood streets are posted at 30 mph. If you were to read or send a text at 30 mph, you would have traveled 220 feet. At 65 mph that five seconds equals 475 feet – more than one and a half football fields. And, at 75 mph, the typical speed drivers travel in the carpool lane, those five seconds reach a whopping 550 feet.

A lot can happen in that short time and long distance, including encountering another distracted driver.

One recent study found that cell phone usage while driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving. One recently released poll revealed that 77 percent of adults and 55 percent of teens think they can manage texting and driving at the same time. The data clearly state otherwise.  

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Focus on driving. Do not let anything divert your attention. Don’t text while driving. Even hands-free devices have an inherent danger. Try to eat or have a snack before you hit the road. But, if you chose to eat and drive, avoid messy foods.  

Finish dressing and personal grooming at home before leaving home. Store loose articles in the back seat or out of reach so not to be tempted to reach for them. Bottom line: focus on driving when behind the wheel, and don’t drive distracted. The stakes are too high. 

In solidarity and safety,
Mike Costigan
IBEW Local 11 Safety officer

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