Steer clear of becoming another statistic

Put your common sense in gear when behind the wheel

Whether driving in an unfamiliar city or running around the corner for groceries, driving should always be taken seriously.

Driving is something people engage in almost daily, whether commuting to work or running errands. However, not all drivers on the road are fully engaged when behind the wheel.

Many distractions can inhibit a driver’s focus.

These distractions range from texting or other cell phone use to grooming. Grooming would include applying makeup, fixing hair or shaving.

Even talking with passengers can pose a distraction to the driver. Seeing as the average vehicle weighs a few tons, an unfocused driver can result in serious damage.

There are three main types of distracted driving.

tim smith / photo editor

tim smith / photo editor

Manual distractions occur when a driver’s hands are removed from the steering wheel. Visual distractions occur when a driver takes their eyes off the road. Cognitive distractions occur when the driver’s attention is elsewhere. Texting while driving incorporates all three of these distractions, making it the leading distraction to drivers.

Many states have passed laws prohibiting texting or cell phone use while driving, but that isn’t enough to stop people from doing it.

According to, “At any time of day in the United States, approximately 660,000 people are using their phone while driving.”

Whether replying or just reading a text, the driver isn’t focused. The website also states, “This issue has become even more dangerous to drivers than drinking and driving. An individual is 23 times more likely to cause an accident because they were texting and driving.”

It only takes a split second for an accident to occur. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) motor vehicle safety section, “Each day in the United States, over eight  people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.”

The annual totals are even more shocking.

According to, “In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.”

People most commonly get into accidents near where they live. The drive home is repetitive, and the driver is apt to feel a greater sense of comfort behind the wheel in a familiar setting.

People don’t always apply the same level of focus to driving around their neighborhood, as opposed to driving in an unfamiliar place.

According to, “Car accidents often take place within just 25 miles of home.”

However, driving is a serious responsibility because the lives of others are at risk.

Drivers owe it to not only themselves, but their passengers and other people sharing the roadway to be focused and attentive. A driver can’t predict when someone is going to cut them off or when a pedestrian is going to appear in the crosswalk.

Recently, a driver was distracted on Main St. in Keene.

A Keene State student, Abbie Sweatt was struck while crossing the sidewalk on April 20. Whether driving on a four lane road such as Main St. or a back road with no painted lines, the same level of attention needs to be paid while operating a vehicle safely.

With so many negative statistics regarding the negligence of drivers it should be enough for anyone to see driving should not be taken lightly.

It is the driver’s responsibility to operate the vehicle safely and appropriately, meaning directing their full attention to the roadway. Accidents can’t be predicted. However, if the driver is paying full attention, an accident may be prevented. Don’t become another statistic, and always take driving seriously.

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