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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Texting While Driving Won't Hurt, Right?

Published April 21, 2011 12:33 PM by Rebecca Mayer
Wrong. You know you've done it: responded to an incoming text message from the friend you are about to meet for dinner, changed a CD in your car stereo, or read a comment on the vacation photos you just posted on Facebook, all while operating a 5,000-pound vehicle.

Well, sorry to say, but that behavior falls under the category of impaired and distracted driving. Every second your eyes are on your phone or the stereo, they are not on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has designated April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and implores people to put the phone down while driving.

Many would not even consider getting behind the wheel after a few alcoholic beverages, yet those same individuals often have their Phones in their laps while driving.

Statistics show that each year about 28% of all crashes - or 1.6 million crashes - are caused by drivers using their handheld or hands-free cell phones and texting while driving. This is much greater than the number of crashes caused by any other distraction.

As so poignantly stated by Dean Metz, PT, one of our very own bloggers, "We, as physical therapists, are positioned well to provide these public health messages. We see the aftermath, we rehabilitate the injured, and we know the physical, emotional, and financial costs of these behaviors. Chronic diseases and accidents are the big killers now, not infectious diseases. We deal with most of them and could play a bigger role in their prevention."

In February, a few editors with ADVANCE attended an awareness assembly for High School sophomores sponsored by an ongoing driver safety program in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. A speaker from the series called "Cruisin' Not Boozin'" (CNB), a community outreach program developed by Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Malvern, Pa., shared the story of how he was hit by a drunk driver and survived.

Ray Lavoie of Media, PA, spoke to students about the accident, the medical care he received and the ways in which his life has been forever changed. His tale is about prevention.

"It's important for schools to get the message out," said Patrick Nugent, principal or Spring-Ford High School in Royersford, PA. "It's unbelievable how quickly things can happen. Many of the speakers and former patients have told us that with the blink of an eye, their lives were changed."

Lavoie uses his story to illustrate what can happen when people drive while impaired or distracted. His accident resulted in many injuries, the most significant of which was a traumatic brain injury. Initially, his role with CNB was a means to help him regain his communication and cognitive abilities but over time, that role has evolved into so much more. As he explained to the audience, his role with CNB has given him a method of reaching many people in a positive way.

"This can happen to any of us," shared Linda Whiteford, a CNB speaker. "I wasn't raving drunk when I got into an accident. I only had a couple of drinks ... and I veered off the road, hit a tree, and totaled my car."

Is anything really that important that it cannot wait until you have safely pulled to the side of the road? If you have to even think about the answer to that question, please watch our video before you get behind the wheel again.

1 comments

Unfortunately this is becoming more and more the reality.  As technology advances, so too does the temptation to use it when behind the wheel.

It is helpful to be reminded of the position we as therapists are in and the information we can provide to our patients.  Distracted driving may pose a more significant risk to drivers because it is more prevalent.

Thank you for a great post!

Jennifer

Jennifer April 22, 2011 8:45 AM

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