Distracted Driving

5 simple steps that help you stay focused on the road

Distracted Driving

Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.

According to the North Carolina Traffic Crash Facts report for 2016, there were at least 11 fatalities and 575 injuries reported in which the driver was known to be specifically distracted by electronic communication devices such as cellphones. Overall, it cited 20.3 percent of crashes in NC involved a driver who was distracted. It’s worth noting that “driver distraction” is a self-reporting, contributing circumstance; therefore data collected may not reflect the severity of the problem.

Despite common rhetoric, being distracted by technology isn’t just an issue for teens. It’s a problem across generations. For adults, the expectation to stay productive and reachable, especially while working, means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.

Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers are implementing distracted-driving policies. Cargill is among companies that prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company.

“I had to try the policy myself first,” says David MacLennan, Cargill’s Chairman and CEO. “Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company.”

He offers these five steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving:

1. Auto response

Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you’re on the road.

2. Do not disturb

If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.

3. Out of sight, out of mind

Put your cellphone where you can’t see or reach it, such as anchored in the back seat.

4. Pull over

Let a call go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return it. Or, plan a couple of pull-over “cellphone stops” along your route.

5. Avoid ALL distractions

Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and stay focused.

NC laws

According to NC legislative statutes, all drivers in NC, regardless of age, are banned from texting while their vehicle is in motion. They are not allowed to compose, read or send text messages or emails while driving. 

Regarding cellphone use, drivers under 18 are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle on a street or public vehicular area in NC while using a mobile phone while the vehicle is in motion. Exceptions apply to allow minors to use a mobile phone to communicate with a parent, legal guardian, spouse, or emergency personnel.

Violators for either law can be pulled over, cited and fined. 

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