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Distracted Driving in Delaware

Here's what you need to know...
  • Texting is one of the most dangerous distractions when you’re driving
  • Distracted driving plays a role in one out of ten car accidents
  • 60 percent of teen accidents involve a distracted driver
  • Nearly 50 percent of adults admit to texting and driving

When you’re behind the wheel, engaging in any activity that takes your attention away from the road is considered distracted driving. This includes grooming activities, using a cell phone, reading, looking at maps, and adjusting the radio, GPS system, or CD player.

However, text messaging is considered one of the most dangerous habits because it’s a visual, cognitive, and manual distraction. In 2014, there were 3,179 people killed and another 431,000 injured in crashes that involved distracted drivers.

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History of Distracted Driving in the United States

According to research, eight people are killed every day in the United States as a result of distracted driving. At highway speeds of 55 miles per hour, you can cover the length of a football field in the time it takes to send one text message.

Drivers below the age of 20 account for the highest percentage of distracted driving crashes, and more than two out of five students have admitted to texting and driving in the last 30 days.

In an effort to stop this trend, states are enacting laws that ban texting while driving to try keeping the roadways safer.

Distracted Driving in Delaware

In Delaware, a campaign has been launched to actively seek out and ticket people who text and drive. Increased enforcement efforts are being paired with paid ads on local radio stations to raise awareness and encourage people to focus on the road.

There were 120 deaths on Delaware roads in 2016 from distracted driving, and authorities are hoping to reduce that number.

Laws About Distracted Driving in Delaware

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The law currently prohibits drivers in Delaware from using any hand-held device. Drivers with a learner’s permit or an intermediate license are prohibited from mobile phone use while on the road. Bus drivers are also completely prohibited from using a cell phone while on the job.

– Does Delaware ban the use of cell phones while driving?

While holding a phone in your hand while driving is illegal, there are some exceptions that drivers should be aware of. The law does allow people some options for still making and receiving calls, including:

  • Using a speaker phone
  • Wearing a wireless Bluetooth device in the ear
  • Utilizing a wired headset
  • Having a car kit installed to allow for hands-free use

This is a primary law, which means that officers do have the right to pull over a driver and give them a citation even if there are no other violations noted at the time.

– What are Delaware’s laws on texting and driving?

Delaware’s law is very specific and goes beyond texting and driving.

People are prohibited from using all types of hand-held devices while driving, including phones, laptops, games, portable computer, PDAs, blackberries, and pagers.

They are also banned from reading, writing, or sending messages, using email or the Internet.

What makes distracted driving so dangerous?

Distracted driving doesn’t just put you at risk. It also endangers everyone on the road around you. People who are not watching the road closely may miss critical events, objects in the road, or cues from other drivers. They can lose control of their vehicle completely and cause a serious accident.

Roughly 10 percent of fatal crashes involve a distracted driver, and there are more than 3,000 preventable deaths on the road every year.

While there is a general belief that hands-free cell phone use is safer, research shows that it’s still not risk-free.

– Teenagers and Distracted Driving

Studies have confirmed that almost 60 percent of teen crashes involve a distracted driver. It’s also proven that texting and social media use among teen drivers is on the rise. However, texting is not the only culprit behind teen diversions. Crash statistics show that:

  • 15 percent of crashes are caused by talking to or engaging with other passengers in the vehicle
  • 12 percent are related to texting or other cell phone use
  • 11 percent of crashes are caused by looking at something inside the car

– Distracted Driving Statistics in Delaware

In 2015, there were 2,221 intersection-related accidents, but none of them were fatal. They did result in 523 personal injuries, and 1698 resulted in property damage.

All crashes combined accounted for 5,511 accidents, including five fatal wrecks, 1,239 personal injuries, and 4,267 incidents with property damage.

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

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Teens aren’t the only ones who are addicted to technology. Reports show that 49 percent of adults admit to texting and driving, and 98 percent of drivers know how dangerous the habit is.

This report doesn’t touch on the other distractions, including eating, multi-tasking, and driving while tired. Here are some tips to help you keep your eyes on the road and avoid dangerous distractions:

– Commit to Driving Distraction Free

Many times we drive distracted because we leave the door open to the possibility. We know it’s dangerous, but most of us have never resolved to never drive distraction free.

We recommend making it a rule for every driver on your policy. You could even create a driving contract or take one of many online pledges (see also here and here).

– Keep the Car Clean

AdobeStock_85893844-1600x1600Loose items that roll around on the floor can get under your feet, and you may be tempted to retrieve them while driving. Keep the car tidy and secure small items in the glove box or center console so that you can focus on traffic.

– Full Attention for Children Or Driving, But Not Both

Kids don’t always behave when you’re on the road, but you can’t really address any sibling arguments when you’re doing 65 miles an hour down the highway.

If you need to deal with something involving the kids, then pull over. An added bonus to keeping your family safe is that they’ll learn that driving is serious and they should let you stay focused on the task at hand.

– Avoid Eating and Drinking in the Car

Eating and drinking while driving is also a distraction, and it can lead to messes in the car. Eat at home before leaving. If you’re traveling far, then take the time to stop for meals. You’ll keep your car cleaner and minimize your risk of an accident.

– Get Ready Earlier

When you’re running late, it’s easy to make up for lost minutes by brushing your hair in the car, eating breakfast behind the wheel, or texting your boss to say that you’re on the way.

Get up a few minutes earlier and get everything together before you walk out the door. You’ll have a more peaceful start to the morning, and you’ll make your drive safer.

– Leave the Phone in the Back Seat

Whether you put the phone in your purse, the glove box, or the back seat, keeping it out of your reach will help you resist the temptation.

There is no call, text message, or email that is more important than a life. If necessary, silence or shut off the phone before you leave so that the alerts won’t distract you.

Comparison Shopping for the Right Coverage

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You should review your policy every six months to ensure that it still works for you, and it’s wise to shop around with other plans for better rates.

Ideally, you should compare three to four policies in order to find one that perfectly suits your needs. Rather than calling companies and repeating your information, you can use an online comparison tool to enter your information once and let the quotes come to you.

When looking at your plan, consider what will happen to your car if you cause an accident. With collision insurance, you can get your own vehicle fixed. If you’re worried about storm damage or theft, then you’ll need to invest in comprehensive coverage.

Remember that other drivers on the road may not have appropriate coverage levels, even though they’re within legal guidelines.

Underinsured coverage is designed to take care of the damage to your car when another driver lacks the right protection.

It’s possible to save money on your rates by shopping around for different plans. You can also protect yourself from accidents by leaving the distractions behind and putting your attention on the road.

Even though you cannot stop others from driving distracted, you can become a more effective defensive driver by reducing your own diversions.

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