Fourth of July travel means more distracted drivers
Nationwide Insurance® survey shows Americans don’t take a vacation when it comes to multitasking behind the wheel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2009
Charlie Gillespie (614) 249-5701
Columbus, Ohio — With millions of American’s hitting the road for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, Nationwide Insurance is advising motorists to keep an eye out for distracted drivers and stay focused yourself.
Nationwide is deeply involved in efforts to curb crashes cause by distracted drivers. A Nationwide Insurance survey shows “Driving While Distracted” (DWD) is quite prevalent among today’s drivers and more dangerous than you might think. More than six out of 10 drivers surveyed say they are expected to be available by cell phone or other electronic devices at all times – even when driving. Even though nearly half of those drivers say they have been hit or nearly hit by a driver who was talking on a cell phone.
“As more people hit the roads during the Fourth of July holiday that means more people paying attention to everything but driving their car,” said Bill Windsor, associate vice president of Safety at Nationwide. “The research clearly shows Americans think they’re safe drivers, even though they admit to driving while distracted. This combined with the perception that we have to respond immediately to cell phone calls or text messages, makes distracted driving even more commonplace – especially during holidays.”
Nationwide’s surveys also reveal distracted driving is not limited to cell phone use. Other driver distractions include eating meals, programming GPS systems and rowdy children. Even those who perceive themselves as safe drivers admit to doing outlandish things behind the wheel, including changing clothes, balancing a checkbook and shaving.
“How often have you noticed the driver in the car next to you is punching text messages into a phone and not looking up at the road?” asked Windsor. “Distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the road even for just seconds put drivers and their passengers at great risk.”
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distracted drivers account for almost 80 percent of all crashes in the U.S.
To help drive home the DWD message, Nationwide is sponsoring the National Safety Council’s new “Death by Cell Phone” billboard advertisement in 67 markets nationwide, reaching more than 1 million drivers daily. The billboards feature Linda, a 61-year-old mother from Oklahoma, and Joe, a 12-year-old boy from Michigan, with one tragic thing in common: both were killed in car crashes caused by drivers using cell phones.
What are some specific safety tips?
- Keep 100 percent of your attention on driving at all times.
- Drive defensively—be aware of what others around you are doing and expect the unexpected.
- Adjust your seat, mirrors, and climate controls before putting the car in gear.
- Pre-program your GPS and favorite radio stations and pre-load your CDs.
- Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel.
- Take a break if you find yourself lost in thought or have difficulty focusing on the road ahead.
- Don’t use a cell phone or any other electronic device while driving.
- Secure cargo that may move around while the vehicle is in motion. Don’t attempt to retrieve items that fall to the floor.
- Pull over to eat or drink; it takes only a few minutes. If you have to eat while driving, select easy-to-eat foods and a spill-proof cup.
- Plan some activities for your children to keep them occupied during long trips.
- Look out for other vehicles. In the summer there are more motorcycles on the road and they sometimes are hidden in your blind spots.
- Have needed items within easy reach: toll fees, toll cards, garage passes, etc
- Give yourself time to react. Keep at least a two second cushion between you and the car in front of you—at least four seconds if the weather is bad.
- Don’t speed—it gives you less time to react and increases the severity of a crash.
- And, of course, always wear your seat belt and drive sober and drug-free.
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. The company provides a full range of personalized insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.
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