The Dangers of Driving Distracted

During the holidays, traffic increases as a matter of course. Whether it’s a long voyage to the relatives or a short trip to the mall, odds are you’ll be hitting the roads this month. If you want to make it to your destination safely, you need to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving. This practice, sometimes called “texting and driving,” is quickly beginning to rival “driving under the influence” as the number one cause of accidents in the country. For young drivers, it’s already eclipsed drunk driving as the number one cause of death, with over 3,000 lives needlessly lost in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even with growing awareness of the risks of distracted driving, far too many drivers still cannot resist the urge to respond to a text or check Facebook on the road. Maybe it’s due to over-confidence or simply an inability to ignore a phone alert. Whatever the reason, it’s a foolish practice you should never engage in.

In the best of conditions, driving distracted is a bad decision, but it’s even worse during the holidays. In fact, four of the top 10 most dangerous days to be on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), are during the holiday season — Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Two factors make holiday driving especially difficult: traffic and weather. Many drivers feel safe checking their phone while stuck in traffic. The stop-and-go nature of busy roads, however, actually increases the impact distracted driving can have. Weather is an equally important factor. Icy roads pose a threat to even the most alert drivers. Those not focused on the road put everyone else in danger.

As you head out for the holidays this winter, remember, the text can wait.