Kids learn early – and they learn from watching you. That’s especially true when it comes to driving and texting. “Not long ago, I was driving through my neighborhood and saw a toddler drive a ride-on toy right off the sidewalk,” said Donna Lemoine, RN, BSN, EMT-Paramedic, Trauma Services director. “As I slowed down to make sure he was OK, I noticed that he was ‘texting’ on his play phone. Kids really do learn by example, so it’s important to set a good one.”
Single vehicle crashes are on an increase and often, those crashes are due to distracted drivers. In 2010, Rapides Regional Medical Center has seen 9,899 trauma cases in its emergency room. Of those, 79 percent were blunt trauma injuries, such as those caused by sports injuries, falls and motor vehicle accidents. Numbers like these are one of the reasons Louisiana – with an “F” in the area of Public Health and Injury Prevention – is listed as one of the lowest ranking states in the nation. “It’s been proven that using a cell phone while driving, significantly impairs driving ability – the same as having a blood alcohol level of .08,” Lemoine said. “In the past, when you saw a car swerving, the first thing most people thought was ‘they must be drunk,’ – now, due to the enforcement of drinking and driving laws, it’s probably more likely that driver can’t wait to send a text, read an email or look up a friend’s phone number.”
Some distracted driver facts:
- • Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves or someone else.
- • Nearly 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near-crashes involved driver inattention during the three seconds before the accident.
- • Drivers on cell phones are twice as likely to miss a traffic signal.
- • More than half the states now ban text messages for all drivers
“Louisiana has four separate cell phone/text messaging laws in Louisiana,” Lemoine said. “These laws apply to novice drivers, school bus drivers and anyone trying to text and drive at the same time.” So, the next time you pull out the cell phone while behind the wheel, keep in mind that not only are the police watching, so are your kids!