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Put Down That Phone! A Guide to Distracted Driving

Jordan Tyczka, MSN, RN, CEN is the Trauma Services Educator for Inova Loudoun Hospital – Loudoun County’s first and only designated trauma center.  Learn more at inova.org/trauma

man looking at cell phone while sitting behind wheel of car

Did you know at least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes EVERY DAY?

In Northern Virginia, it feels like we are moving faster than ever with more distractions that pose risks to our safety.

What is Distracted Driving?

  • Cell phone use including texting, calls, GPS, email and social media
  • Hands-free technology, which can actually distract you as much as holding a cell phone
  • Adjusting the dashboard touch screen, climate or audio controls
  • Eating, drinking or smoking
  • Talking to others in the car
  • Rubbernecking
  • Fatigue

Eyes on the Road!

Traffic fatalities in Virginia are on the rise. In 2017, nearly 850 people were killed on Virginia roads with a third of those linked to cell phone use. The other top categories? Eyes not on the road and looking at roadside incidents. Already this year, 16 emergency responders have been struck and killed by cars when responding to motor vehicle crashes.

In 2017, nearly 850 people were killed on Virginia roads with a third of those linked to cell phone use.

Know the Law about Driving Rules

Right now, it’s illegal to text or check your email while driving in Virginia. But, as of this writing you can still hold your phone to talk while you drive. Virginia is the only state in the region without a hands-free phone law. Despite six hands-free driving bills introduced in this year’s General Assembly session, lawmakers could not agree and adjourned without passing anything. 

Basic Safety Tips for Safe Driving

If you cannot devote your full attention to driving, you are endangering yourself, your passengers, pedestrians and everyone who shares the road with you. Remember: IT CAN WAIT.

Simple tips to make your driving safer:

  • Put your phone completely out of reach.
  • Use an app to block incoming calls/texts. [Article: Top 5 No Texting While Driving apps for iPhone] Many apps can detect when your vehicle is moving and will automatically disable texting. Bonus: parents can control these apps!
  • Ensure items are secured in your car so you don’t have to reach for them.  
  • Adjust before you go: Is your seat in the right position? How about your mirrors? Set your audio and temperature, too.  
  • Plan your route in advance. Program your GPS before you start to drive.
  • Don’t rubberneck! Stay focused with your eyes on the road in front of you when passing the scene of an accident or other traffic incident.
  • If you have children or new drivers in the car, lead by example.

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