The holiday season is upon us and, especially for limo drivers, it comes with increased traffic everywhere, more than the usual delays, more pedestrians paying less attention and the inevitable increase in impaired drivers. Don’t let yourself become a limo driver statistic by failing to keep your entire focus and attention on your driving.
A recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) estimates that almost 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes happen within three seconds of some form of driver distraction. The study also estimates that 25% of all tow-away crashes are related to driver inattention. The problem is so prevalent, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) created a website, http://www.distraction.gov/, dedicated to preventing distracted driving, and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood has made educating the public and lessening the incidence of distracted driving the centerpiece of his administration.
There are so many distractions vying for your attention when you are behind the wheel, and they come from inside and outside your vehicle. The most common exterior distractions are other vehicles, rubber-necking accidents, debris on the road, seeking destination landmarks, glare, pedestrians and billboards, to name a few. Interior distractions include cell phone usage, even with hands-free devices, eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, climate or other vehicle controls, or trying to visually follow a GPS system. Other less recognized distractions are fatigue, conversing with passengers, picking up something that fell, daydreaming, road rage and even smoking. People have admitted to applying make-up, shaving and reading while driving. While most of these distractions wouldn’t apply to professional drivers, they do emphasize how the driving habits of others have become a threat to everyone else on the road.
The NHTSA study placed driver distraction as the fourth most serious driving safety issue we face, after drunken driving, aggressive driving and speeding, However with innovative technologies becoming standard upgrades in newer vehicles, distracted drivers are becoming less safe drivers. Sophisticated entertainment centers, on-board navigation devices, internet connections, email access and fax machines have increased the time that drivers are distracted and they all pose a threat to roadway safety. If drivers are distracted from concentrating on the task at hand, even for a second, they are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than are more attentive drivers. The problem will only grow larger and more complex as distractions increase in the form of conveniences.
As a professional driver, you can take the lead in helping prevent this deadly and growing problem. Keep your focus on your main responsibility – driving. Stay alert and be aware of all traffic around you and the pedestrians who aren’t paying attention. Drive defensively and keep your eyes moving and your wits about you.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!