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Environmental Health & Safety

Distracted Driving Warnings

Are you driving to and from meetings each day? Are you pressured by a constant string of phone calls, messages, and emails and the perceived need to respond to all of these as quickly as possible? Are you connecting these together and trying to save time by talking, texting, and emailing while driving between meetings and to and from work? If you answered yes to any or all of this, you are not alone.

Nearly every American owns a cell phone. Many have cell phones, smart phones, tablets, ipads, and other devices provided by the University. And many feel compelled to make every minute count, especially since these tools have been provided.

This all leads to distracted driving, which is a threat to the safety and health of every employee. Studies show that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers. Yet many employees largely ignore this research. Additionally, the makers of these devices continue to develop and market gadgets that cause distractions. The federal government warns against talking on a cell phone while driving, and New York State has some of the toughest distracted driving laws in the country. In New York, distracted driving is a primary offense that carries with it a minimum fine of $150 and the addition of 5 points to your license.

What is distracted driving? It is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions are dangerous and include texting, talking on a cell phone or smart phone, eating, drinking, grooming, reading (including emails and maps), using a GPS, watching videos, and many others.

But the worst is text messaging and emailing because they require visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver. Don't believe this? Here are some distracted driving facts, as provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):

  • 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2012
  • As of December, 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the United States
  • Drivers in their 20s make up 27% of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes
  • At any given daylight moment in America, 660,000 drivers are using an electronic device while driving
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that is enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
  • Using a headset cell phone is not much safer than handheld use.

Please safeguard yourself, your family, and the University by refraining from all distracted driving.

Gregory J. Devlin, CSP

Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 7/1/2014. Disclaimer.