distracted drivingAs a seasoned nurse, I face the same challenges I faced as a new nurse. Many of the injuries I see are preventable. The alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents that kill or result in permanent disability, the falls that could be prevented with a focus on safety, and now a new issue – distracted driving.

Distracted Driving: More Than Texting

Many people think distracted driving is texting and driving, but it actually involves so much more.

Distracted driving includes:

  • Using an electronic device (cell phone, GPS, or radio);
  • Eating;
  • Inattention due to a person’s state of mind (being upset, exhausted, or unable to concentrate); and
  • Doing anything that takes your eyes off the road, including applying makeup or shaving.

Every day in the United States, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in motor vehicle accidents that involve a distracted driver. What’s scary about texting is that it is taking away a driver’s attention more frequently and for longer periods of time than other distractions.

Think about these statistics:

  • Text messaging creates an accident risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted;
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving 55 mph the length of a football field blindfolded; and
  • Using a cell phone while driving, whether hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reaction functioning as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08.

I ask you one question: Is sending that one text worth it?

We can take simple steps to keep ourselves safe. I challenge you to turn off the phone when you are driving, pull over if you must to talk or send a text, eat before you get into the car, and don’t drive if you are tired! But, don’t just follow these tips alone. Share them with your family and friends. We can all keep each other safer if we work together.

Working together, we can prevent injuries.

Txt U L8R Program

Join us on April 4 for the free public event “TXT U L8R,” a unique program designed to discourage individuals from texting while driving.

Key elements include a demonstration of an advanced driving simulator, a presentation of a realistic trauma scenario, a testimonial from the victim of an accident caused by a teen driver who was texting, and a demonstration of several smartphone apps designed to prevent texting while driving.

Presented by: Chrissy Keating, Coordinator of Injury Prevention, University of Vermont Medical Center.

When: Wednesday, April 4, 6:00 – 7:30pm.
Where:UVM Medical Center, UVM Medical Educational Pavilion, Sullivan Classroom

Click here to register. 

Jennifer Gratton, BSN, RN, is Trauma Program  Manager at the University of Vermont Medical Center. The UVM Medical Center is collaborating with the University of Vermont Clinical Simulation Laboratory to develop and launch a program about the consequences of distracted driving to present to high school students. 

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