Drivers Education continues with Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Thorson. Today's tutorial addresses the subject of "Distracted Driving."

Credit: Patti Banner

A teen driver took out a fire hydrant in Kennewick while driving distracted. She's lucky to be alive and miraculously was NOT injured. The car was demolished.

What is Distracted Driving?  According to the National Highway Traffic  Safety Administration NHTSA website:

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The NHTSA will be working with Tri-Cities law enforcement in conducting Distracted Driving emphasis patrols throughout the area.

The NHTSA has the U Drive. U Text. U Pay campaign.  48 states, including Washington, have made it illegal to text while driving.

Don't text and drive. Please consider the following:

  • If you must send or receive a text, pull over to a safe location and park your car first.
  • If you have passengers, appoint a “designated texter” to handle all your texting.
  • If you can’t resist the temptation to look at it, keep your phone in the trunk.
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