As firefighters, we see firsthand the devastating effects of car accidents caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from the road. It includes texting, using a cell phone, eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, and anything else that diverts your attention from driving.
Unfortunately, distracted driving is a significant cause of accidents on Missouri roads. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, there were nearly 19,000 distracted driving crashes in Missouri in 2019 alone, resulting in 83 fatalities and 74,38 injuries. That's why it's essential to stay alert and focused while driving. Here are some tips to help you avoid distracted driving and stay safe on the road.
Tips to Stay Safe on the Road
When it comes to driving, safety should always be your top priority. Unfortunately, countless distractions on the road can take your attention away from driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting the radio. To help you stay safe on the road, we've compiled a list of tips to minimize your chances of getting involved in a distracted driving accident. By following these tips, you can help keep yourself, your passengers, and other drivers safe while on the road.
Put away your phone: Texting and using your cell phone while driving is extremely dangerous. If you need to call or text, pull over to a safe location and park before using your phone.
Avoid eating and drinking while driving: Eating and drinking while driving may seem harmless, but it can be a huge distraction. Finish your meal before hitting the road or pull over to eat.
Plan ahead: Before starting your trip, plan your route and any stops you need to make. This will help you stay focused and avoid using your phone for directions or other information.
Use technology to your advantage: If you need to use your phone for navigation or music, use a hands-free device or connect your phone to your car's Bluetooth system.
Keep your passengers entertained: If you're traveling with children or other passengers, make sure they have everything they need to stay entertained during the trip. This will help prevent distractions and allow you to focus on the road.
Recognizing Bad Habits: Common Distractions for Missouri Drivers
Breaking bad driving habits and learning to recognize and avoid dangerous distractions is critical to keeping yourself and others safe on the road. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to fall into the trap of multitasking while driving, especially if you're in a hurry or feeling stressed. These four actions are among the most common distractions reported by Missouri drivers. By breaking these habits, you can help ensure that your focus remains on the road at all times, reducing your risk of accidents and injuries:
Texting and using your phone: Texting and using your phone is one of the most dangerous distractions while driving. It takes your eyes, hands, and mind off the road.
Eating and drinking: Eating and drinking can cause spills, which can be distracting and even dangerous. Additionally, it requires you to take at least one hand off the steering wheel.
Adjusting the radio or GPS: Reaching for the radio or GPS can take your eyes off the road and lead to an accident.
Talking to passengers: While talking to passengers is a common distraction, it's important to remember that your main focus should always be on the road.
Distracted Driving Statistics in Missouri
In Missouri, distracted driving is a significant—and dangerous—problem. In 2019 alone, 18,914 distracted driving crashes were reported in the state, resulting in 83 fatalities and 7,438 injuries. Texting while driving is an especially hazardous form of distracted driving, as it takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of five seconds.
This may not seem like a long time, but when traveling 55 miles per hour, it's enough to travel the length of a football field without looking at the road. It's important to remember that distracted driving is entirely preventable and that staying focused while driving can help keep yourself and others on the road safe.
About the Author:
Eureka Fire Protection District is an EMS, Fire, and Rescue service provider located in Eureka, Missouri. Staffed with nearly one hundred volunteer and career Paramedics, EMTs, Firefighters, Junior Firefighters, and administrative teams, the department provides its local community with fire prevention, education, safety resources, and emergency relief. Eureka Fire Protection District maintains a reputation as a well-run, high-performing fire department by keeping up to date with the latest in life-saving training and technology.