Distracted driving becoming more of a problem on SC roads

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - If you're like most people, you've probably got a lot on your plate during the day. Getting to appointments on time, keeping up with the kids, even trying to make time for dinner. However, multi-tasking while on the road could have dangerous consequences.

Jim Crosland teaches driving classes to officers in training. "Even when the motion of the vehicle is stopped, you should still be aware of your surroundings," he said. "If someone else ran a red light, it could give you a little more heads up of what's coming at you."

And it's not just phones. Things like putting on glasses, reaching for the iPod and applying hand sanitizer are all distracting. "Your hands are off the steering wheel, your hands are greasy so if something should happen, your hands could slide across he steering wheel and now you got involved in a collision," he said.

If kids are in the picture, the stakes get higher, and so do the obstacles. "I'm multi-tasking, I'm completely checking my phone," said Lainey Cohen. "I may be on the phone, I'm watching the clock, making sure Hayden is getting to school on time, watching traffic, making sure she's being dropped off where she needs to go and she gets out of the car."

Like a lot of moms, Cohen works. After work, it's mom time. It was while her kids were in the car that Cohen says she had one of the scariest moments of her life.

"My son asked me to pick up his Elmo and I leaned back," she said. "Of course I hadn't thought anything about it, and of course I leaned back because I am four houses away from my house. Not even thinking between point A and point B. And I look up, I almost hit a toddler who was in the middle of the street."

"Had I not looked up at the split second I did, I would've hit the child because I had been distracted," added Cohen.

When an obstacle is in front of you, it takes about 1.6 seconds to react and slam on the brakes. If you're looking down, have to look up and focus, that reaction time may be more than double.

Cohen says she's given up texting on the road altogether. As for the other things, she'll ask her backseat drivers to keep her accountable.

Crosland says the lesson to be learned is no matter how on-the-go you are, multi-tasking on the road could stop you in your tracks.

"Everybody has those excuses, but what's the excuse going to be when you run off the road and someone did pull out in front of you and you could've avoided it?" said Crosland. "If you could've avoided it, if you were paying attention and have kids in the hospital, what's your excuse, then?"

31 states have texting while driving laws lawmaker Bakari Sellers pitched a South Carolina texting bill, but it didn't make it through this year.

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