Safety tips to avoid distracted driving


Maci Shafer, Editor in Chief

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Last month in Gardner, there were two major accidents. Even if they weren’t from being distracted, they are still important to discuss. 

At the end of February and the beginning of March two people were hit. Dave Peavy, the crossing guard, was struck by a vehicle and passed away a couple of days later in the hospital. Then about a week later,  a woman named Amy Lynn was hit in the Walmart parking lot. Fortunately, she survived, but was left with bumps, bruises, and a concussion. 

There are three types of driving distractions: visual, manual, and mental. These distractions are all related to texting. Taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and thinking about other things.   

According to The Flood Law Firm, “It should come as no surprise that texting is the number-one concern when it comes to distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies it as the ‘most alarming distraction’ on our nation’s roads.”

When starting to drive it is essential to get enough practice and hours in so that you can prepare for as many dangerous situations as you can. Even though parking badly in a parking lot might not be a safety issue, it can cause damage to your car if you hit someone’s vehicle or they hit you.  

“I’d say when you’re learning how to drive get as much practice as you can with a licensed driver in a parking lot or on a road that no one is on,” Scott Hofer, GEHS SRO, said. “I would say being distracted and parking are two of the big things.”

There are new cars with new types of electronics like touch screens, TVs for the front of the car, and autopilot driving. One of the most known cars that have these features is the Tesla. These are potentially useful features, but they can also cause accidents.

“I would say a majority of the accidents are from new drivers or drivers that have been driving for a very long time, and some of its complacency some of it’s the new cars that are out that have all of the new electronics and distractions that doesn’t help,” Hofer said.

Just because you have been driving for a while and think you are a good driver doesn’t make you immune to distractions. You should always be cautious because something can always go wrong. 

According to Broad Law, “Recent studies conclude that seasoned drivers with more than five years of experience begin to forget just how dangerous driving can be. As a result, motorists feel like they can send a quick text, make a phone call, or groom themselves in the mirror without posing a risk to other drivers and putting themselves in danger.”

Speeding is the second biggest reason for crashes. Many people like to speed or even race. However, if you are going faster than the speed limit and can’t stop in time, you could hit an animal or obstacle, or maybe even a person.

According to Michael T. Gibson, an attorney specializing in automotive accidents, “Speeding is the second most common cause of road accidents in the United States. In fact, speeding causes nearly 55 percent of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. It causes accidents and increases the severity of accidents for several reasons. When we are driving too fast, it takes longer to slow down and react to changes in traffic, road obstructions, and accidents. The driver may have to brake hard and may even lose control of the car.”

Distracted driving and speeding isn’t the only danger; there are also cases of being followed. If you realize that you are getting followed you need to be very cautious because this could lead to getting trafficked. 

“I would say try to go to a well-lit populated area like a parking lot or even a police station and go ahead and call 911,” Hofer said.

With summer on its way in, the sun can be blinding, the heat can cause tire pressure to increase, and more people start walking due to the nice weather.

“The most common time of the year for car accidents is over the summer months. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, August is the month with the most crashes,”  said  Marion M. Moses, another attorney focusing on auto accidents.    

Incorporating these driving tips into your everyday lives can protect you on the road, prevent accidents, and ensure your safety. Staying safe on the road can save you and passer-by drivers.