Compared to decades ago, our roads and highways are safer. We’ve added more safety features to our cars, build them to be more crash-proof, and have safer infrastructure. The majority of people are wearing their seatbelts and the message about not drinking and driving has been gaining traction.
But then the cellphone came along and we messed it all up. Those pocket-sized bundles of distraction are always beeping, pinging, dinging, and ringing and we just can’t seem to put them down. And the addiction is killing us.
In the United States, 2016 proved to be a strange year and not just for the reason you think. For the first time in 50 years, the highway fatality rate increased, jumping by just over 10% in the first six months of the year when compared to 2015. Much of the blame can be put on distracted drivers.
Whether its texting, checking email, playing with an app, or posting to social media, using your phone while driving is a seriously bad habit with deadly consequences. We’re not immune to the problem here in Canada. Last June, the BC government upped the fines for drivers caught using a handheld mobile device while driving. In the four months since, traffic accidents increased by almost 2%. And it can happen in the blink of an eye.
What can you do? Well first thing is never use your phone while driving. If you must have a phone conversation, use a hands free device. Many of today’s new cars come equipped with this technology. Better yet, pull over and safely out of the way of traffic to talk, or check and respond to messages. And if you have kids, make sure they’re onside in the battle against distracted driving – absolutely no texting while driving! Whatever it is, it can wait. Because no message, game, or app is ever worth risking anyone’s life.
For more information
- Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps, New York Times
- Crash numbers edge upwards despite stiffer distracted driving penalties, CTV News Vancouver
- Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving, CAA website