Every day, members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) see the traumatic injuries caused by distracted drivers. In an effort to keep drivers safe on the roads, AAOS and OTA have launched "Decide to Drive," a national campaign to reduce the incidence of distracted driving.
"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," said AAOS president Dr. Daniel J. Berry.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2008 nearly 6,000 people died and more than half a million were injured in crashes associated with driver distractions of all types.
The AAOS offers this "Wreck-less" checklist:
- Adjust seats, head rests, vehicle controls and mirrors, and fasten your seat belt before you drive.
- Enter the destination address into your GPS system OR review maps and written directions before you drive.
- Do not eat or drink while driving.
- Move all potential distractions such as reading materials, cell phones, etc., away from easy reach. The point is to keep your eyes on the road.
- If there is a distraction that needs your immediate attention, first stop your vehicle in a safe area.
The AAOS and OTA invite all drivers — and passengers — to share your stories of distracted driving at www.decidetodrive.org and to speak up when someone isn't giving driving their full attention.
In March 2011 the AAOS commissioned a Harris Interactive Survey, the findings of which revealed 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, 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."
- Although drivers are aware that distracted driving compromises the ability of others to drive safely, one in five (20 percent) agree that they are a good enough driver that they can do other things while driving without compromising their driving ability.
- Among those who self-reported distracted driving behaviors overall, 30- to 44-year-olds seem to be the worst offenders, having more likely admitted to eating or drinking, talking on a cell phone or reaching in the back seat of the car while driving.
- Many drivers that 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.
- The results showed that 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.
"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 Dr. Andrew N. Pollak, OTA president.
For more information about the Decide to Drive campaign, visit www.decidetodrive.org.