Distracted driving has been a hot topic in the news in recent years. Cell phone use while driving has become commonplace despite many states’ efforts to limit or ban it altogether. As if holding a phone while driving wasn’t dangerous enough, the popularity of texting has created an even larger public safety concern. Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, which is plenty of time to cause a serious accident.
With all the high-tech dangers to those on the road I think we forget that low-tech distractions cause accidents, too.
Last week, a woman in Lenoir County, North Carolina hit another vehicle when she was took her eyes off the road to retrieve the cup of coffee she had dropped. The crash happened near Harvey Rouse Road during her morning commute on Highway 11. According to a North Carolina trooper, she ran her car full-speed into a pick-up truck pulling two tobacco trailers. The woman’s car and one of the trailers ran off the road and ended up in a water-filled ditch.
Luckily, the woman escaped her car, and the two people in the pick-up truck sustained only minor injuries. However, the woman has been charged with failure to reduce speed.
This crash could have resulted in serious injuries to the woman and the two people in the truck. It had nothing to do with talking on the phone or sending a frivolous text. Instead, in involved a cup of coffee – something many of us have in hand every morning when we drive to work.
Changing the radio station, reaching for a beverage, adjusting the air conditioning, trying to calm cranky toddlers in the back seat. These are just a few of the low-tech distractions that can take a driver’s eyes off the road long enough to cause a car accident.
Efforts to increase public awareness of the dangers of using a cell phone and driving should be lauded, but perhaps the ultimate message to convey is that drivers should keep their eyes on the road no matter what else is happening in the vehicle. If it’s important enough to cause a distraction, it’s important enough to pull over.