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Emily Caruso: "DWD (driving while distracted) is like DWI"

DRIVING WHILE distracted happens more often than we think. Many things can be described as being a distraction. Are you distracted when you drive? 

Texting while driving is against the law in Virginia. It is a secondary enforcement. If someone is pulled over for breaking a different law and the police find out that the driver was texting, charges will be pressed against the driver.  Distracted driving causes accidents, injuries, and sometimes death.

  Distracted driving is comparable to drunken driving. Both actions delay the reaction of the driver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, using a cellphone while driving delays a driver’s reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08. I don’t think it is safe for people to drive drunk. It is not legal for them to drive in that condition either, so why would it be legal to drive distracted since it is similar?

  People who are involved in accidents are more likely to be injured, especially if that person is not expecting the impact. Each day, approximately 1,200 people are injured in car crashes when distracted drivers are involved. Sometimes injuries can be minute; however, some outcomes are violent, and possibly permanent.  

 When a driver takes his concentration off the road, he is distracted.  There are three types of distractions; visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual is where the driver takes his eyes off of the road, manual distraction is when hands are taken off of the steering wheel, and a cognitive distraction is when the driver takes his mind off what he is doing. 

 Nobody wants to go to a loved one’s funeral, especially if the cause of death is distracted driving—something that can be 100 percent prevented. Life is too short to end it that early. Every day more than 15 people are killed in car crashes due to a distracted driver. It is selfish for someone to get on a phone or text while on the road and for that person to think there is no negative outcome.  In reality, being a distracted driver can kill other adults, grandparents, teenagers, children, infants in car seats, and even pets. 

Would you want this to happen to your family? Would you do this to someone else’s family?  If you answer “no” to either of these questions, then you should think before you pick up your phone just to send one “quick” text message, or to engage in other distracting activities while driving.

 Because of one careless  and inconsiderate effort, someone could get into an accident, become injured, or have a life taken. If everyone just played his or her part, and tried to limit the distractions while driving, then I believe the numbers in all of those areas would go down tremendously. The ways you can help include planning ahead, thinking about where you are going, and making sure you know how to get there before you leave. Other ways are to turn off all electronics so you do not get distracted even the slightest bit, and prepare passengers for the ride, making sure they do not need anything. 

You should secure all loose items that might distract you when you are driving. The more educated you become, the more you should try to educate your friends about the problems of today. 

Emily Caruso is an eighth-grader at Chancellor Middle School. 

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