A driver can be stopped from using his or her handheld while behind the steering wheel of a vehicle if automobile and handheld manufacturers were forced to collaborate to engineer a technological solution to this growing problem. What are they waiting for? Maybe they need a hard shove from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, (NHTSA).

The USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) reported that approximately 421,000 people each year are injured  from crashes caused by a distracted driver. Likely, every one of those accidents were avoidable had the drivers not been distracted. Now you know why your car insurance rates are going up!!

The CDC experts also stated that approx. 3, 300 a year are KILLED from distracted driving.

Will YOU CAUSE the next injury or fatality? Likely, YES, if you use your handset when behind the steering wheel.

The CDC’s website defines three main types of distraction:

  1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
  2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel;
  3. and Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.

Yes this certainly does include USING A CELL PHONE/HANDHELD, texting and sexting, using navigation systems, and eating. And get this…right from the experts: “…texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.  One of their studies revealed that almost 70% of American drivers admitted to texting while driving.  [Source:  “Distracted Driving”.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Website: http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/ ]

Are any drivers watching the roadway when you are out there, or when you kids are trying to cross the road?

SPREAD THE WORD. Talk about this with your friends over the next round of drinks. Let them know you are outraged at the dangers posed by drivers using handhelds. Tell them to spread the word. At least pass this link to them and ask they read this. Your life, their life and the lives of your loved ones are indeed in jeopardy right now since the majority of drivers out there are driving while distracted, especially when distracted with their handhelds!  Help discourage the use of handhelds when someone is behind the steering wheel. But be sure YOU don’t take your eyes off the road. Being environmentally aware is not only safer, but it is common sense…even while your vehicle is stopped at a red traffic signal or a stop sign.

Yes, there are dangers even when the vehicle is stopped at a red traffic light or a stop sign.

The other day, I heard a lawyer arguing that it ought to be permissable to text/sext while the driver who is doing so is stopped at a red traffic light, or at a stop sign.  You’d think a lawyer would be smarter than that?! A wee bit of reflection would reveal the ridiculousness of that statement.

Even when a driver’s vehicle is stopped there are dangers. Especially in winter.

In winter, if you are driving in conditions where the road surface is snow-covered or worse, icy, you know you need to leave LOTS OF DISTANCE between you and the car in front of you. Unfortunately a lot of drivers have skipped science class and fail to understand how the weight of the vehicle affects the vehicle’s momentum and causes the vehicle to travel far beyond what a driver expects when braking on a slick or slippery roadway. After leaving lots of space between your front bumper and the car ahead, and your vehicle is safely stopped, you ought to be watching that approaching vehicle in your rear view mirror just in case you can mitigate a crash from behind by inching forward in the nick of time.  This defensive or evasive action would not be possible if you are focused on your handheld instead of the approaching car in your rear view mirror.

Here’s two more for you, right out of my own real-world experience.

Just the other day, a few cars ahead of me were stopped at a red traffic signal. While we waited patiently for the green light, the car in front of me suddenly lurched forward and crashed into the car in front of that one. We heard that horrible sound of the crash and the two bullets that triggered air bags. The driver admitted to being distracted and thinking the light had turned green and all the cars in front had cleared the roadway. I’m not into name calling but I certainly wanted to call her a handheld “space cadet”. She was in tears because she was going to be late for work because her car had to be towed to a repair center and she had to report to a police accident recording center. However, she failed to mention any concern for the $10,000 repair bill or great fortune of having avoided injuring her children who were also in the car.

My thoughts went to the what-if scenarios. What if she had suddenly emerged from her handheld matrix while at a stop sign when a group of children were crossing on their way to school and lurched forward?

This one happened to me and I learned a valuable lesson from it.

Years ago, before GPS and navigation systems I looked down at a paper map while I was stopped at a red traffic light in a less-than-hospitable part of a city. In a flash, my passenger door flew open and a man jumped into the front seat of my car and placed a large knife to my throat demanding, “Get out!”.  I was very lucky. When I asked him to exit my car, he did.  Now I pay attention to my environment when I stop and I also keep my doors locked at all times.

Until NHTSA gets off its butt to force auto and handheld manufacturers to engineer a technological solution to this huge problem, and a rapidly growing problem, your life is in danger, and worse, the lives of your children, grand children and other loved ones. Help make this socially unacceptable until the brains out there at manufacturers engineer a useful technological solution. Admonish and pressure others to keep their handhelds tucked away when they are driving. Even if they are stopped at a red light or stop sign!

Help make it socially unacceptable to use a handheld when behind the steering wheel. Please help before you or I or our loved ones are injured or killed by a driver distracted by using a handheld.