Page 23 and 24 What Every Driver Must Know- Distracted Driving Page 23 and 24 Chapter 4: Traffic Laws ••• Distracted driving The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there are at least 3,400 deaths annually from distracted-driving crashes in which drivers lost focus on the safe control of their vehicles due to manual, visual or cognitive distractions. While this statistic is significant, it may understate the size of the problem since identifying the distraction and its role in a crash can be difficult. Most drivers understand the responsibility of getting behind the wheel and avoiding risky behaviors. Distracted drivers who drive “in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property” or “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” are subject to prosecution under Michigan law. Texting while driving is illegal in Michigan and this includes reading, typing or sending a text message. Exceptions are in place for reporting crashes, crimes or other emergencies. Drivers face a fine of $100 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent violations. Anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off your driving can be a big problem. Studies show that your brain cannot give full attention to more than one activity at a time. Even seemingly simple tasks such as tuning a radio can be risky, especially in bad weather or heavy traffic. In the estimated quarter of a second it takes the brain to shift attention between two tasks, a car moving at 65 mph covers 24 feet. Here are some ways you can minimize in-vehicle distractions. Before driving: Designate a front-seat passenger to serve as a co-pilot to help with maps or navigation systems. If you are driving alone, plot out destination routes in advance. Be familiar with equipment in the vehicle. Practice performing basic functions such as adjusting the temperature or radio settings without taking your eyes off the road. Preprogram your favorite radio stations for easy access and preselect a play-list on your portable device. Ensure all children are comfortable and properly buckled up. Teach them the importance of good behavior and remaining buckled up while in a vehicle. Do not underestimate how distracting it can be to tend to them in the car. Complete any personal grooming before you start driving or after you reach your destination. While driving: Make driving your priority. A momentary distraction can lead to a crash. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Avoid using mobile phones, texting devices, and navigation and other electronic systems. If you must use a mobile phone, make your call while your vehicle is safely parked. Avoid calling others who are driving. Do not take notes, read or look up phone numbers. Avoid involved, stressful or confrontational conversations. If you must eat, choose easy-to-handle items and make sure drinks are secured in cup holders. Take a break if you find yourself “lost in thought” or tired. Did you know that. . . ? In 1904, the speed limit in Saginaw was 8 mph for cars and 10 mph for bicycles. In 1922, the Detroit Police Department began keeping traffic crash statistics. In 1945, the first chemical test to identify suspected drunken drivers was administered by the Detroit Police Department.