EDITORIAL: Be a responsible driver!

How long did it take for you to read this sentence? Not too long, right? Believe it or not, the time it took you to read it over was more than long enough for a driver to be distracted and hurt himself/herself or someone else while driving.

When I’m driving to and from work on Bridgeport Avenue and Route 8 back into New Haven every day, it seems like I always pass a car accident. Whether it involves one, two, or more cars, the thought always crosses my mind as to what caused it all and could it have been prevented?

Sometimes an accident seems unavoidable and is rightfully called an accident, but other times one or more drivers are responsible.

Every day on television, there is another story being shared about a person dying from an accident. For the past two weeks, I have covered accidents in which either people were seriously injured or killed. As I snap pictures of these cars that resemble crunched up accordions, I can’t help but wonder, at what point will people be more responsible and drive appropriately?

I have texted while driving before and luckily nothing ever came of it, but I know that I am extremely lucky. According to MADD.org (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), the average drunk driver has driven drunk over 80 times before their first arrest. I say that to emphasize the possibility of a person who texts while driving numerous times, before actually crashing, causing an accident or being pulled over.

Writing this piece in a local newspaper won’t stop the world from drinking and driving, texting and driving, or doing anything else that will distract a driver while operating a vehicle, but if it resonates with one person then I think it was a success.

I want you to think about if you’ve ever had a time where you were driving distracted and you looked up at the road just in time to keep from crashing or possibly hurting someone else. You never know when a mistake you make will be the last one you get to make or if it will cost someone else their life. Is a text, selfie or any other distraction you can think of worth all you have to risk or all someone else has to lose?

If you’ve read this far, here are some possible tips to prevent distracted driving:

-Place your phone in your glove compartment.

-Download the Uber or Lyft app for a safer way of transportation.

-Pull over to the side of the road to send that text or answer that call.

-Don’t drive under the influence of any substance that impairs your ability to drive responsibly.

-Adjust your music volume at a red light.

-Don’t use social media while driving  (Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

*Snapchat has recently created a filter that detects and discourages use while driving.

-Avoid eating while driving.

-Finish applying makeup or adjusting your hair while you’re not driving.

These tips could be considered “obvious,” but as true as that may be, the No. 1 cause of car accidents is distracted driving, according to drivers.com.

Here are some facts regarding distracted driving courtesy of distraction.gov:

-In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

-Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of driv­ers who were distracted at the time of the crashes.

-Drivers in their 20s make up 23% of drivers in all fatal crashes, 27% of the distracted drivers, and 38% of the dis­tracted drivers who use cell phones in fatal crashes.

-Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field — blindfolded.