Your distracted driving can have deadly consequences

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        Distracted driving is quickly becoming a bigger and bigger factor in crashes on our roadways, many times with deadly results.
        Most people don’t even realize the many types of distracted driving that exist. While most think of cellphone use – talking or texting – is the dominant factor behind distracted driving, it is certainly not the only one.
        Daydreaming while behind the wheel causes a driver to pay less attention to what is going on around him or her, and more importantly, what is going on in the roadway ahead. Many people use their drive time to think about and plan their day ahead, be it at work or at home.
        Even on the way to their jobs, drivers may be plotting the logistics of what they will be doing after the work day is over – taking Johnny to soccer practice, and making sure Susie gets to her piano lesson is important to parents, but they are not worth being involved in a crash.
        A better time to make such plans is before you hit the road. Maybe while you are showering or getting dressed is an alternative. Or consider taking time during a break at work to give deep thoughts to your daily agenda.
        Listening to music may be another form of distracted driving that affects your driving. Enjoying music or a favorite podcast on the car radio or via a connected music player appeals to all ages.
        All too many people use earbuds or headphones while driving. In Ohio, it is illegal to use earbuds or headphones with both ears while driving. The reason for this is simple – if you have both ears to listen to music using headphones or earbuds, you are probably unable to hear sirens, horns, train whistles and other warning devices.
        Another form of distracted driving is something that almost everyone is guilty of at one time or another is eating or drinking behind the wheel. You’ve just got to have that coffee before you get to work, right?
        Picking up or putting coffee or another beverage in a cupholder back in a cupholder may require a driver to take his or her eyes off the road for even a few seconds. Those few seconds of inattention may be all it takes to not see the driver in front of you apply the brakes.
        Again, it is not worth your life or the lives of others to have that coffee as you’re driving down the road. Drink the java before you leave home or wait until you arrive at your destination to avoid this problem.
        Now, let’s take a look at texting and driving, and allow me to discuss an incident of which I have personal knowledge.
        A few years ago, there was a crash in which a close friend of mine, a young woman, was killed when she plowed into the rear of a semi tractor-trailer rig at full speed. The truck was stopped in the roadway due to construction ahead, and the investigation revealed the woman had not even slowed down at the time of the impact. The investigation also found the woman was texting at the time.
        She left behind a husband and three young children, including a 5-month-old baby. Intense crash investigations are revealing cellphones to be at least a contributing factor in more and more incidents.
        As much as driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a plague on our highways, distracted driving is equally a preventable problem.
        Law enforcement officers may pull up behind vehicles pulled off and stopped on the shoulder to check for a problem only to find out the driver pulled over to make or take an important cellphone call or text. As long as they have stopped in a safe place, a good officer will thank the driver for doing so. Still, the best bet is to just turn off the phone.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention/Community Policing Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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