WPD Issues Reminder To Public: Put It Down!
CHIEF TONY BURNETT, Woodbury Police Dept.
Did you know that Distracted Driving was 2009’s word of the year according to Webster’s Dictionary? Unfortunately, this is not just another fad that comes and goes. Distracted driving has become a trend with deadly, real consequences.
For everyone who thinks they can talk on their phone, text, apply make-up or do any other distracting activity while driving, it’s time for a crash course in reality from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
-- In 2009, almost 5,500 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver, and nearly 450,000 were injured. (NHTSA)
-- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
-- 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
-- Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
While these facts may sound like just statistics, those of us at the Woodbury Police Dept. know from personal experience that those numbers translate into the actual faces of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and friends right here in Woodbury We have had to tell too many families about losses that may have been prevented had everyone been simply paying attention to the road instead of someone or something else.
So, why do so many people participate in this dangerous behavior? With more technology now than ever, driver distractions have risen to unprecedented numbers. We live in a world where people expect instant, real-time information 24 hours a day and those desires do not stop just because they get behind the wheel. Drivers simply do not realize the dangers that are posed when they take their eyes off the road and their hands off wheel and focus on activities other than driving.
People often say, “I can do two things at once. I’ve memorized where the numbers are on my phone, so I don’t have to look.” Or, “It’s just up to your ear…you have your sight, you’re still watching the road.”
To the contrary, the people who choose to indulge in distracted driving behaviors are not only a danger to themselves, but to everyone on the road around them.
For those who still think they can do two things at once, think about this…According to a study by Carnegie Mellon, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. Can you really afford to loose that much brain power? Driving is an activity that requires your full-attention and focus in order to keep yourself and others safe.
Yes, this is a national problem, but law enforcement and first responders see the local faces at too many crash scenes. So, it begins right here in Woodbury. Remember, Put It Down…your life is worth more than a conversation!