AMA Distracted Driving Challenge

As parents, we’re often passing things to our children in the back seat of the car to keep them entertained and quiet. I never realized the effect this was having on my ability to focus on driving.

AMA Distracted Driving ChallengePhoto: Thinkstock

Earlier in May, I was able to participate in a closed course driving challenge that offered the opportunity for me (the driver) to drive with distractions and without. I was able to see just how unfocused I became when presented with distractions such as texting; unwrapping a granola bar; and putting a straw in a juice box and passing them into the back seat (to the potential child). I also learned about the #NoDistractions initiative that is rolling through Alberta; encouraging everyone on the road to pledge to drive without distractions.
 

Distracted drivers are 3 times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers (Alberta Transportation, 2011
When I hear the phrase “distracted driving” my mind immediately goes to talking on a cell phone or texting while driving; I will admit I used to use my phone when driving but now that I have children I rarely do. Prior to the AMA distracted driving challenge I did not consider the many ways that us parents are driving distracted on a daily basis! How often are we passing snacks, toys and books back to our little ones while driving without realizing that our attention has shifted off of the road and we are increasing our chance of getting in an accident. I know how stressful it can be to drive with little ones screaming and crying in the backseat and I would encourage all parents to pull over and safely help their child(ren) to settle.

Children are four times more distracting than adults as passengers, and infants are eight times more distracting than adults as passengers!
As parents we are often passing things to our children to keep them entertained and/or quiet without realizing the effect it has on our ability to focus on driving. As I drove through the closed course I was able to see just how unfocused I became when passing snacks to the back seat and even though I was able to keep control of the vehicle at parking lot speeds I was doubtful that I would be able to drive safely at regular driving speed. It only takes a few seconds of lost focus to potentially get in a serious accident.

1 in 5 crashes have some form of driver inattention as contributing factors (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010)
When we get behind the wheel (myself included) we forget just how powerful our vehicles are and that taking our eyes (and focus) off of the road for even a few seconds could be life changing. Of course before we even start our vehicles we strap our little one(s) in their car seats and buckle our seat belts so that we are ‘safe’ in the event of the accident.  But what if we did our best to not get in an accident at all? What if we drove with NO DISTRACTIONS!?

AMA has recently launched a campaign to raise awareness and to encourage everyone to drive without distractions.
The goal of the AMA Distracted Driving campaign is to get the entire community to commit to safer driving; to curb your bad driving habits and to make the roads a safer place for all of us. My family printed and signed the Family Driving Contract and you can too! If we all agreed to drive without distractions we would make the roads safer for not only our families but for everyone in the community!

Distracted Driving Facts:

    *Distracted drivers are 3 times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers (Alberta Transportation, 2011)
    *Driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year
    *Economic losses caused by traffic collision-related health care costs and lost productivity are at least $10 billion annually. That’s about 1% of Canada’s GDP! (Government of   Canada)
     *International research shows that 20% to 30% of all collisions involve driver distraction (Alberta Transportation, 2011)

Lets all agree to drive with #NoDistractions for the safety of everyone! Print & Sign the AMA Family Driving Contract.

Lindsay MacDonald was a special guest of Reader’s Digest and AMA, helping to raise awareness against distracted driving. She blogs over at modernmama.ca.

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