Distracted driving is pervasive. In fact, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving at this very moment.
We all have seen drivers talking on phones, texting, eating, applying makeup and doing a number of other activities that take their eyes off the road and minds off driving. We criticize those drivers for what they are doing, yet are guilty of driving distracted ourselves and often with those that we love most in the car.
Teens across the country tell me that their moms and dads drive distracted despite repeatedly issuing warnings about its dangers. I was one of those parents. I drove distracted all the time until my daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver. It wasn't until she was killed that I changed the way I drive. But, it shouldn't take the death of someone we love, or killing someone others love, for us to change the way we drive. Each year thousands are killed through distracted driving and hundreds of thousands are injured. For teens distracted driving is now the leading cause of crashes.
Teens whose parents drive distracted are nearly three times as likely to also drive distracted.
What have you been teaching your children about distracted driving? "Do as I say, not as I do" is a risky way to teach our children safe driving.
What better time of year to commit to driving safer for ourselves and those we love? Be the driver you want your teen to be by modeling distraction-free driving every time you drive. Here are some simple steps you can take to set the right example for your kids:
• Drive without sending or receiving texts, using the Internet, Facebook or social media of any kind.
• Wait to text or call others until they have stopped driving.
• Pull over to a safe location to check texts, social media, or listen to voicemail.
• Stop texting, or end phone conversations with others once you learn they are driving.
• Pull over to a safe location or wait until you are finished driving to eat, apply makeup, adjust music or scroll through iPods or similar devices.
• When being driven by a distracted driver, ask the driver to driver safer.
For even more tips, visit EndDD.org and read our Family Safe Driving Agreement. It's a simple way to help protect those we love from preventable crashes.
Joel Feldman is an attorney in Philadelphia with the firm of Anapol Weiss. After his daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver he founded EndDistractedDriving.org (EndDD.org) and regularly speaks with teens and adults across the country. He can be reached at info@EndDD.org