A car crash on Jagtvej in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Spotted: people reading novels, doing nails, while driving

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) campaign against distracted driving seeks sightings for forum
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There’s been a lot of talk about the National Transportation Safety Board’s proposed ban on texting and handheld cell phone use behind the wheel. While I hate distracted driving, I personally don’t feel a ban will do any good unless it’s actually enforced—I live in an area where there are laws against cell phone use but I still see it every day, and I don’t know anyone who’s ever been fined. The manpower just isn’t there. However, perhaps all of the attention drawn to the problem by the proposed ban will make some of the perpetrators see the error of their ways.

The members of the AAOS see the results of distracted driving every day in hospital operating rooms. They’re the ones who have to fix the broken bones of accident victims. That’s why they wanted to do something about distracted driving. They’ve joined up with the Auto Alliance, a group of automobile manufacturers, to raise awareness with their “Decide to Drive” ad campaign and online forum.

Spots produced to date include ads to go on buses, a poster, a video, and a radio ad. You can find them on the website if you haven’t been exposed to them already. The video is posted below. Don’t worry, it’s not graphic, but it does a good job of sending the message that there’s no such thing as a small distraction behind the wheel, and reminding us that cell phones aren’t the only distractions.

People who’ve been involved in a crash or near crash due to distracted driving, or witnessed incidents of distracted driving are invited to add their stories to the forum. You can also view the stories submitted by other people and vote on how hazardous you think the incidents they cite are. Stories can be searched by worst offender or by location, so you can see how your area compares to others.

Some of the cases of distracted driving already posted include someone reading a novel while driving down the highway, a fatality involving someone trying to retrieve a dropped CD case, and a lot of complaints about people texting or talking on their phone instead of watching the road. We’re still dealing with all of the pre-digital distractions, too, such as people applying makeup or eating their breakfast in the car while on their way to work.

Check out the results of the AAOS-Harris survey while you’re on the site, too. It seems we’re all more likely to complain about the other guy’s behavior. The result I found scariest? “Of the more than 1,500 driving-age adults surveyed, NONE of them reported their own driving as unsafe. In fact, 83 percent claim to drive safely. And, yet they believe only 10 percent of other drivers drive ‘safely’.”


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