By Gina Smith
May 24, 2012 

Accidents due to distracted driving have been on the rise in the nation.

According to the Official U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving, over 3,000 people were killed in 2010 due to distracted driving.  And individuals are 23 times more likely to crash if they are texting and driving.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 are injured a day in distracted-related accidents. That is almost one injured person per minute.

On average, texting while driving takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 70 mph,  the speed limit of most of our major highways,  that is like driving more than the length of a football field blindfolded.

Lincoln County residents by necessity do a lot of driving.  But though our roads don’t have the same kind of traffic as metro areas, they can still be dangerous. In the last year, our roads have seen more than their share of accidents and fatalities. Just in the last month, Lincoln County has had two traffic fatalities.  So far this year, the county has had close to 100 accidents.

There are steps to take to alleviate the risk of being injured or killed in an accident that is related to distracted driving.Whether it’s you or you encounter someone who is driving distracted,  being alert and aware of other people on the road will drastically reduce the chances of an accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are three types of distractions:

  • Visual—taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual—taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive—taking your mind off what you are doing.

Distractions include adjusting the radio or navigational device, eating, emailing or texting while driving.

The latter is especially dangerous because it takes all three types focus away from the road.

As of 2012, Nevada has banned all handheld devices while driving. The penalty is $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second and between $100 and $250 for a third.  Offenses stay on the driver’s record for seven years.

There are many mobile apps to help avoid distracted driving. Many are free or very little cost. These apps can use your device’s GPS system to detect you moving and put all calls to voice mail automatically. There are also apps that can automatically respond to text messages saying that you are driving and will return the text when it’s safe to do so.

Following such precautions will help Lincoln County residents avoid become the next statistic.

A plea from Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee.