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Awareness month cautions texting, distractions while driving

Distracted driving has become one of the most dangerous behaviors behind the wheel. To address the concerns distracted driving poses, safety advocates have named April National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In accordance with the safety awareness campaign, the Ohio Highway Patrol is trying to educate and remind drivers about the importance of staying focused on the road while driving.

Distracted driving behaviors, such as texting while driving, increases the chances of being in a car accident. Many people still use their cellphones to text behind the wheel despite the fact that studies have shown that reading or sending a text message takes a person's eyes off the road for roughly four and a half seconds. If the person's car is going 55 mph or faster, that means they are travelling the length of a football field without looking up from his or her phone.

Distracted driving can be classified into three categories: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions obviously take the driver's eyes off the road, manual distractions take a driver's hands off the steering wheel and a cognitive distraction takes a driver's mind off driving. Texting while driving combines all three of these categories, which is why it is considered to be the most dangerous distracted driving behavior.

Despite the dangers of distracted driving, many drivers still use their cellphones or model other dangerous behaviors while driving. A survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 were the most likely to make phone calls while driving while drivers age 21 to 24 were the most likely to answer incoming calls while driving.

Even though the dangers of distracted driving are well-known, the purpose of Distracted Driving Awareness Month is to make everyone more aware of the risks they may b e taking while driving and what steps to take to reduce their chances of being in a car accidents caused by distracted driving.

Source: Marion Star, "Keep yours eyes on the road," Nick Bechtel, April 3, 2013

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