Are you ‘intexticated?’
Advances in modern day technology have allowed us to connect to the world at any given time, even when we’re driving. The idea of sending one quick text or reading a short email, can turn deadly in a matter of seconds.
According to AAA, taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of being involved in a crash.
“Intexticated” is the term used by AAA in their new campaign – “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated” – which launched this month – National Distracted Driving Awareness Month – to educate people about the dangers of distracted driving.
Over the past few months – in preparation of National Distracted Driving Awareness month – The Sabetha Herald staff has been investigating how many Sabetha drivers have been distracted while they were driving.
Yes. We’ve been watching you.
We sat at six different locations throughout Sabetha for an hour at each location, observing what Sabetha residents do while they are behind the wheel.
Roosevelt and 14th Street – Between the times of 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., 11.11 percent of drivers were distracted. A total of 180 vehicles passed, and of these 20 drivers were distracted.
Old Highway 75 Northbound – Between the times of 1 and 2 p.m., 20.13 percent of drivers were distracted. A total of 154 vehicles passed, and of these 31 drivers were distracted.
Old Highway 75 Southbound – Between the times of 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., 6.95 percent of drivers were distracted. A total of 123 vehicles passed, and of these eight drivers were distracted.
Main and Sixth – Between the times of 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., 8.68 percent of drivers were distracted. A total of 403 drivers passed, of these 35 drivers were distracted.
Bluejay Boulevard – Between the times of 2:45 and 3:45 p.m., during school pick-up, 8.82 percent of drivers were distracted. A total of 102 drivers passed, and of these nine were distracted.
Third and Oregon – Between the times of 7:15 and 8:15 a.m., during school drop-off, 11.40 percent of drivers were distracted. A total of 171 drivers passed, and of these 22 were distracted.
In total, we observed 1,133 drivers on Sabetha streets, and of these 125 were driving distracted. This means that, on average, 11.03 percent of those we meet on our local roads are driving with distractions taking their eyes from the road.
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, distracted driving is most often associated with cell phone use, but many other situations can cause distractions in the car, such as interacting with children, eating food, using other electronic devices, and even things happening outside the vehicle, which align with what was observed in Sabetha. Some of the distractions we observed during our investigation included the following: texting, drinking a pop, eating, talking on the phone, reading, and turning around to reach something in their backseat.
KDOT said that these types of distractions contributed to more than 16,000 distracted driving crashes in Kansas in 2017.
“Taking your eyes off the road to send a text is like driving blindfolded down a football field,” said Chris Bortz, Traffic Safety Program Manager for KDOT. “You wouldn’t risk driving blindfolded, yet we see people on their phones or eating or putting on makeup every day on our roads.”
Distracted Driving Initiative
New public service announcements (PSAs) are designed to help audiences understand that the consequences of using a smartphone while driving are the same as drinking and driving. The campaign targets drivers who would never consider drinking a beer behind the wheel, and yet regularly engage with mobile devices that dangerously take their eyes, hands and minds off the road.
AAA Kansas recognizes the impact that more than 50 years of public education efforts against alcohol-impaired driving have had across the country. Those campaigns helped to achieve changes to alcohol-impaired driving laws, increased enforcement, and, critically, a shift in public attitudes and behaviors toward drinking and driving.
Although much more still needs to be done, anti-drunk driving campaigns and related efforts have helped cut the number of alcohol-impaired crash fatalities in half since the 1980s, according to the National Institutes of Health.
New research released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that even though 97 percent of drivers say texting/emailing while driving is a serious or very serious threat to their safety, 45 percent admit to having read a text or email while driving in the past month, and 35 percent admit to having typed one. The campaign’s sobering new message — “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated” — makes it clear that the consequences of both alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving are the same – deaths and injuries.
• Distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 each day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities behind speeding and driving under the influence. And these numbers likely underestimate the problem, because most drivers do not admit to distracting cell phone use after a crash.
• According to AAA, drivers interacting with cell phones to perform tasks like texting or surfing the Internet are two to eight times more likely to be involved in a crash.
• Fifty-nine percent of all teen crashes involve some form of driver inattention, and 12 percent of teen crashes involve cell phone use.
• In 2017, 28 percent of all traffic crashes in Kansas were attributed to driver inattention or distractions.
• Distracted driving can be a ticketable offense in Kansas. For example, any texting, social media or internet activity on your phone can lead to a minimum $60 ticket plus court costs. However, the worst result of distracted driving would be to cause an injury or death.
What Kansans Have to Say
An AAA survey in March 2019 of more than 600 Kansas drivers revealed the following thoughts and opinions on distracted driving:
• Sixty-nine percent said they notice more drivers distracted by electronic devices now than two years ago.
•Ninety-one percent said they are “concerned” or “very concerned” about their safety on the road due to other drivers being distracted by electronic devices.
• Seventy-five percent “think that it’s never okay” to use a smart phone for texting, emailing or social media while driving.
• When asked how often they look at their phones to read or send a text while driving, 3 percent responded “regularly,” 4 percent said “fairly often,” 38 replied “rarely” and 55 percent said they “never” did so.
• Fifty-one percent said they “always” or “often” put their smart phone away where it cannot be accessed while driving.
• Eighty-nine percent “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that the dangers of using a smart phone for texting, emailing and social media can be as serious as drinking and driving.
• Fifty-nine percent of respondents “rarely” or “never” use hands-free technology such as Bluetooth or voice-activated calling.
• When asked about the existing Kansas law banning texting while driving and whether survey participants would support or oppose a law in Kansas banning hand-held cell phone use while driving: 63 percent said they would support, 22 percent said they would oppose and 16 percent said they are not sure.
Help eliminate distracted driving by following these safety tips.
• Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
• Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
• Pull over. If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
• Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
• Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
• Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
• Everyone should prevent being intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.
“We are facing an epidemic. Too many people are injured or killed due to inattention on our roads. Distracted driving crashes are 100 percent preventable,” said KDOT Secretary Julie Lorenz. “Protecting yourself, your passengers and other Kansans is as simple as putting the phone down and avoiding all other distractions in the car.”
Sign the Pledge
AAA invites the public to take the Don’t Drive Intexticated pledge. Visit www.aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted to join this lifesaving effort.