Distracted Driving a Key Factor in Fatal Crashes
BURNSVILLE, MN — In the midst of the holidays, multitasking will become even greater as we juggle work, family, and holiday preparations, noted Jeff Ogden, president of AAA Minnesota/Iowa in an editorial on November 22.In addition, many people will be driving significant distances to visit family and friends. Not coincidentally, this time of year has the greatest number of fatal automobile crashes. Winter driving conditions cause many automobile crashes, but many people do not know that distracted driving causes approximately 25 percent of those fatal automobile crashes.AAA Minnesota/Iowa wants to draw attention to the most common driving distractions and provide some driving tips to ensure safety during the holiday season.According to a 2001 national survey conducted by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), activities drivers engage in while driving include: talking to passengers (96 percent), adjusting vehicle climate/radio controls (89 percent), eating a meal/snack (74 percent), using a cell phone (51 percent), tending to children (41 percent), reading a map/publication (34 percent), grooming (19 percent), and preparing for work (11 percent).Along with distracted driving, inconsiderate driving causes many automobile crashes at this time of year as people become stressed out and release their frustration behind the wheel of their vehicle. As important as it is to stay focused on driving, it is also very important to share the road with others and understand they may be feeling the same stress as you are feeling.A few safe driving tips particularly important this time of year include: prepare yourself mentally and physically before getting behind the wheel; remain calm despite other´s bad behavior; drive courteously by allowing others to pass or merge; practice proper space management by not tailgating; avoid the urge to gawk at others´ unfortunate crashes; drive safe and sober; and always wear your seat belt.