By Violette Bishai.
“It was just a quick call”
“just running late, had to put my makeup on in the car”
“Just a catchy billboard, had to take a picture”
Just one thing is all it takes, for us to be too distracted to realize that the car in front of us came to a complete halt. We have come to believe we are ‘pros’ at distracted driving. We do it every day, over 660,000 of us, and it becomes almost second nature: to change music, to go through emails, and texts, glancing every now and then at the road. We think we’re saving time by multitasking, ‘this won’t happen to me, I’m too careful.’ Yet it is almost every day on highways that traffic is running particularly slow due to an auto accident, so much so that, according to the NHTSA, “more than 40,000 people were killed on our nation’s roadways last year, and distracted driving is a major contributor.” We read about these horrifying accidents in the news and listen to them on the radio. ‘Just one thing’ can always wait until we reach our destination, the cars around us will not.
One thing that has to be defined in addressing this nationwide issue is the word ‘distracted.’ An activity that one person may find distracting or harmful on the road, may not be seen as distracting at all by another. The word is an adjective of the term ‘distraction’ which is defined as “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.” This can allow us to set the precedent on everything else. To be distracted, you are engaging in a task that takes away undivided attention from something else, regardless of how minor that task is. This idea, similar to remembering to eat vegetables and flossing your teeth, is much easier said than done.
Researchers have found, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic. Yet interestingly enough, “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior does not materially affect the habit formation process.” It does not have to be perfect, so long as you take the steps and make the effort. Though the argument is ‘with the advancement of technology, its hard not to be distracted.’ Let us give you the counter argument: iPhones now have an auto ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature and cars have new safety features including blind spot sensors and brake assist. Technology is constantly changing and evolving for us. We just have to pledge to make better use of it. Pledge today and get involved to bring an end to distracted driving.