According to the National Safety Council, 2016 was the second year in a row that the United States saw a significant increase in highway fatalities.
The preliminary estimate for last year is 40,200 fatalities, which is a spike of 6% from 2015. Over two years, the death toll has risen 14%—the largest two-year increase since 1964.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving is responsible for over 3,000 deaths annually. The actual figure is most likely higher since police reports do not always record distraction as a factor in car accidents.
Due to the rise of traffic deaths related to driver distractions, the National Safety Council encourage motorists to put their cell phone away before driving. Research shows that the mere act of thinking about the conversation, not holding the phone or dialing, that causes driver distraction.
Last November, NHTSA issued a set of proposed guidelines for makers of handheld electronic devices to reduce the possibility of distraction. They included ways to pair the devices to a car’s infotainment system and the addition of a “driver’s mode.”
The following are several ways to help prevent a distracted driving car accident:
- Silence your phone. Since it can be tempting to check your cell phone whenever you hear an alert, turn the sound off to reduce the urge.
- Leave the grooming at home. Wake you earlier than usual so you could give yourself an ample amount of time to prepare for your day. Avoid brushing your hair and applying makeup while driving.
- Dine in. Consuming food or a beverage while driving is just as dangerous as using a handheld device or grooming. Not only could you spill something or burn yourself, but having a burger or drink in your hand can make steering difficult.
- Get familiar with your car’s controls. Whether it is a GPS or the ability to connect your phone to your vehicle via Bluetooth, new cars are often equipped with sophisticated controls that require some getting used to while driving. With any infotainment system with touch screens, ensure you know how to use it and take some time to customize the settings to your liking.