What you’ll learn reading this article:
- It takes just a few seconds to cause a distracted driving crash.
- Kentucky is one of the leading states for distracted driving fatalities.
- Stay safe by knowing the law and keeping your focus on the road.
Three seconds (or less). That’s all it takes to cause a catastrophic car accident. About 80% of car crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some type of driver distraction in the three seconds just before the crash.
Kentucky is near the top of the nationwide list for fatalities in distracted driving accidents. Over a five-year period, 168 Kentucky residents died due to distracted driving. Many of those in Central Kentucky. Why does our state have so many of these crashes? Let’s take a closer look.
Distracted Driving is More Common Than You Might Think
Distracted driving involves operating a vehicle when you are not 100% focused on the road. When you engage in any activity that takes your attention off driving, you’re immediately too distracted to safely control your vehicle.
Most people don’t even realize how often they lose focus on their driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), we are surrounded by potential distractions that fall into three main categories:
- Visual, which is taking your eyes off the road
- Manual, when you take one or both hands off the wheel
- Cognitive, when your mind wanders to something other than driving
The moment you take your eyes, hands, or brain off the road, you become a hazard to yourself and those around you. For example, sending or reading a text message takes about 5 seconds. At 55 mph, glancing at one text message means you’ve traveled the length of a football field without paying attention to the road. That could be deadly!
Kentucky is #4 in America for Distracted Driving Fatalities
In Kentucky, we have the unfortunate honor of being one of the top states for fatal distracted driving accidents. And it’s not just a fluke. A five-year study by the NHTSA found that Kentucky consistently kept its #4 spot for distracted driving deaths.
Safety experts have investigated why certain states have so many severe distracted driving crashes. The answer includes a mix of issues that every state in the nation faces, plus some Kentucky-specific factors:
- Rural and curving terrain with built-in geographic distractions
- In-car distractions from food, passengers, children, and pets
- A false sense of safety from driving familiar hometown roads
- A false sense of safety presented by navigation/hands-free technology
- Prevalent use of cell phones and other electronic devices
- Lack of public awareness that distracted driving is harmful
Stay Safe on the Roads and Stay Within the Law
As a Kentucky resident, you can prevent distracted driving accidents by making it a point to keep your eyes, hands, and mind on the road. It’s also crucial to set a good example for children and teen drivers. Research shows that teens with parents who drive distracted are 2 to 4 times more likely to drive distracted too.
Remember, we have a state law prohibiting distracted driving. Kentucky House Bill 415, which became the law in April of 2010, bans all texting and driving for people of all ages. Those over age 18 are permitted to use global positioning devices and make phone calls, but minors are forbidden to use digital communication devices when the vehicle is in motion.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could improve Kentucky’s high ranking for distracted driving fatalities? It would mean saving hundreds of lives. Let’s keep Kentucky’s roads safe by keeping our eyes on the road.
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