Tips for trips

Published 2:00 pm Saturday, June 23, 2012

Alabama State Trooper Greg Eubanks speaks to a crowd at ECHS Thursday night during a seminar about distracted driving

“Wait to text.” “Stay alive, don’t text and drive.” – The slogans, signs and public service announcements are seemingly everywhere reminding drivers texting while behind the wheel can be deadly – and Thursday night Alabama State Trooper Greg Eubanks was at Escambia County High School to inform parents and students of just how serious the issue has become.

But Eubanks did not focus solely on texting. In fact he said texting is just one of many distractions that can lead to disaster for drivers.
“Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving,” Eubanks said. “All distractions endanger driver, passenger and by standard safety.”

Eubanks said most distractions can be placed into one of three categories.

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“The three main types of distractions are manual, which means anything that makes you take your hands of the wheel,” Eubanks said. “Visual, taking your eyes off the roadway and cognitive. Taking your mind off of driving.”

Eubanks said texting has become a major distraction factor for drivers that falls into all three categories as those behind the wheel use their hands, eyes and minds to decipher or send a message.

According to Eubanks, approximately 37 billion text messages are sent daily and those who text while driving are 23 times more likely to crash. The largest portion of drivers at risk to fall prey to the phenomenon, Eubanks said, are drivers under the age of 20.

“11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 who are involved in a fatal crash are reported to have been distracted,” he said.
Eubanks said the solution to this problem is simple.

“Pay attention to the road,” he stressed. “Driving requires 110 percent of your attention. 110 percent.”

Thursday’s presentation was a free public service coordinated by the Escamiba County High Hopes program, the 21st Century group, Escambia County High School and the Alabama State Troopers office.