There are a lot of things that can cause a driver to lose focus on the road and surrounding traffic – things as innocuous as the chatter of a passenger can cause a potentially dangerous and harmful distraction. So can changing radio channels. But the elephant in the room has turned out to be texting or sending email on mobile devices.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety did the study. Its primary finding is that fully 95% of us are aware that we should not be doing anything involving text or typing while driving. And yet, 35% admit to doing it anyway.
Just talking on a cell phone is not good. In fact, 10 states and the District of Columbia have no cell laws on the books. And 34 states and DC have no driving while texting laws.
Changing a radio station doesn’t seem to cause nearly the same level of concern. It generally involves pushing a preset button or using some other method to change channels, things that can generally be done while keeping eyes on the road. However, there is no denying it too can still be a distraction.
According to the study, 20% of all accidents that took place in 2009 had a distracted driving element.
RBR-TVBR observation: Broadcasters used to say “don’t touch that dial.” Now, on the radio side, the positioner should be, “For your own safety, put down that smartphone this instant, and don’t touch that dial.”