According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving injures more than a half of a million people each year. Orthopaedic surgeons are the medical doctors who put bones and limbs back together after traumatic injuries, including road crashes. That’s why the membership and leaders of these organizations have come together to launch this initiative and urge people to decide to drive each and every time they get behind the wheel.
“Drivers need to think about their own choices behind the wheel because the injuries we see and treat are life-changing. Our goal is to get all drivers who are used to ‘getting away with it’ to learn now – not later the hard way – that it isn’t worth it,” said OTA President Andrew N. Pollak, M.D.
Overestimating Driving Ability
Results from the AAOS-Harris Interactive Survey reveal how American drivers feel about multitasking, their own behavior behind the wheel and the choices of other drivers:
- Of the more than 1,500 driving-age adults surveyed, no participants reported their own driving as unsafe. In fact, 83 percent claim to drive safely. Respondents, however, believe only 10 percent of other drivers drive safely.
- Although drivers are aware that distracted driving compromises the ability of others to drive safely, 20 percent agree that they are good enough drivers to do other things while driving without compromising their driving ability.
- Among those who self-reported distracted driving behaviors overall, 30-44 year olds were more likely to admit to eating or drinking, talking on a cell phone or reaching in the back seat of the car while driving.
- Many drivers who have experienced a near accident due to their own distracted driving behavior say they will continue the behavior that caused them to swerve or slam on the breaks to avoid an accident.
- 94 percent of drivers in America believe that distracted driving is a problem in the United States and 89 percent believe it is a problem within their own communities.
“Anecdotally, we’ve known distracted driving has been a problem for some time, but the survey results confirm it,” said AAOS President Daniel J. Berry, M.D. “Orthopaedic surgeons have a simple message – driving is one of the most important things you do all day – so decide to drive and give it your full attention.”
Decide to Drive
The campaign aims to help drivers stay healthy by “deciding to drive” each time they get behind the wheel. The campaign suggests that drivers follow the Wreck-less checklist:
- Adjust seats, headrests, vehicle controls and mirrors and fasten your seat belt before you drive.
- Enter the destination address into your GPS system orreview maps and written directions before you drive.
- Do not eat or drink while driving and move all potential distractions such as reading materials or cell phones out of reach to ensure you’ll keep your eyes on the road.
- If there is a distraction that needs your immediate attention, stop your vehicle in a safe area before addressing it.
The campaign includes a multimedia public service advertising campaign, an interactive Web site, a school curriculum, a print public service poster contest and materials to help surgeons talk to their patients about distracted driving. To learn more, please visit http://decidetodrive.org.