Fight Distracted Driving and Change Our Social Norm

Think about this advice as a co-pilot’s duty. Speak up. We need to keep each other safe.

Texting while driving now is illegal in 47 states, including Oklahoma and the District of Columbia. Talking on a cell phone while driving – using a handheld or hands-free device – is never safe. Research debunks the myth that humans are good at multitasking.

In fact, the human brain cannot handle two thinking tasks as the same time, like driving and talking on the phone. Your brain toggles quickly between these two tasks, meaning your reaction time behind the wheel can be slowed. Because you are not focused on what is ahead, you are putting your own safety and the safety of others at risk.

Drivers talking on cell phones can miss seeing up to 50% of what is in their driving environment, including stop signs, red lights and pedestrians. In Oklahoma, there were 11 fatal crashes, 662 injury crashes and 1,047 non-injury crashes involving a driver distracted by an electronic device in 2016, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

The irony is technology exists that can help solve a problem created by technology. Cell phone blocking apps and devices can help drivers stay focused on driving. They prevent drivers from making or accepting calls, texting or accessing the internet.

At Our Driving Concern, we provide Oklahoma employers free resources to educate employees on the risks of distracted driving:

Years ago, before laws were passed, employers took the lead in promoting seat belt use. Today, many employers include safe driving policies that ban cell phone driving in their health and wellness programs. All organizations are responsible for creating safe work environments for their employees. Distracted driving and transportation safety issues should be included in a comprehensive safety package at your workplace.

While safe driving policies are good for business – driving down crash-related expenses – they also are good for people. By adopting cell phone abstinence policies, employers are saying it is time to bring safety and sanity back to our roads. This message is important to share because behaviors learned in the workplace often are mimicked at home.

On the road, every second matters.

— Lisa Robinson is a Senior Program Manager with the National Safety Council