Health & Safety

March 8, 2013

Distracted driving: texting can be deadly

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NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Distracted driving has become a major safety issue for drivers nationwide.

According to distraction.gov, a U.S. government website promoting safe driving, more than 3,000 people were killed in distraction-related crashes on U.S. roadways during 2012.

There are many causes of distracted driving, such as texting or talking on a cellphone, eating and drinking, chatting with passengers, grooming, reading, using navigation systems, watching videos and adjusting the radio to name a few.

Text messaging, however, is the most alarming distraction. It requires virtually all of a driver’s visual, manual and cognitive attention. In an effort to address the problem, the U.S. Department of Transportation has banned commercial drivers from using cellphones while driving, encouraged states to adopt tough laws and launched several campaigns to raise public awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.

Department of Defense and Air Force leaders have taken their own steps to reduce distracted driving accidents. DOD Instruction 6055.4, Traffic Safety Program, prohibits service members from engaging in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles on or off military installations, and while driving any vehicle, regardless of duty status, with government-supplied electronic devices. It also discourages the use of hands-free devices, which inhibit safe driving.

Texting while walking can pose perilous hazards as well. Fortunately, many incidents end with only an embarrassing situation; bumping into a wall or minor falls are prime examples. Walking in front of a moving vehicle, though, could produce far worse results.

In Las Vegas the numbers are higher for both vehicle and pedestrian accidents during the warmer months because more people are out and about enjoying the sights and activities the local area has to offer. Although the number of fatalities are down by 10 percent during the last three years in Las Vegas, the number of vehicular and pedestrian related accidents that involve texting and driving or texting and walking are up by 10 percent.

Just this week, Assembly Bill 123: Texting while walking and crossing roadways, was proposed and sent to the state legislature for review and approval. If it passes, this Bill would make it illegal to text and walk anywhere within the state of Nevada. The Bill is aimed mainly at people who text while using crosswalks, due to the increased number of pedestrian vs. car mishaps that have increased over the last few years.

For safety’s sake, when driving be sure not to text at all. When walking, be sure not to text until you can stop and text in a safe place. Remember, always play it safe!




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