By Johanna Hicks
You have undoubtedly heard of the dangers of driving while intoxicated, but what about other driving distractions? Our roadways are more dangerous now than they were pre-pandemic and 2021 marks the second deadliest year on Texas roads. Calling attention to the dangers of distracted driving can help end this deadly streak on our roads.
In a study done by American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, researchers found that even using a hands-free system or texting when you are stopped at a light can produce a ‘hangover’ effect where your mind stays distracted for up to 27 seconds after using smart phones or even voice to text systems in vehicles. Fortunately, when we look at the cars surrounding us each day in traffic, we do not see many drunk drivers. Yet, looking around and seeing a driver staring at their cell phone is all too common. Distracted driving is much more pervasive than drunk driving.
Like drunk driving, distracted driving slows the driver’s reaction time. Distracted driving additionally takes the driver’s eyes off the road for as much 4-5 seconds while they read or send a text message. At 55 miles per hour, this would be the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with a blindfold on. While teens and young drivers are more likely to be driving distracted, many of these drivers do not see texting as a risk. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey found 20% of drivers ages 18-20 said texting does not affect their driving, and nearly 30% of drivers ages 21-34 said texting has no impact.
Parents and caregivers need to be good role models and not have their children witness them driving distracted, just as they would not want to have their children see them driving impaired. So drivers need to put away their cell phones and wait until they arrive at their destination to use their phone. Children are paying attention and parents have more influence over their teens than they may think. This influence goes for any situation – not just driving.
Keep your eyes on the road and arrive alive!
District 4-H Contest Results are in!
I recently had the privilege of serving on various 4-H contest committees on the district level over a two-day period. I’m proud to announce that two of our Hopkins County 4-H members came home with numerous honors. Below are the results.
- Rylie Carroll: Public Speaking, 1st place; Food Show Side Dish, 2nd place; Fashion Show Specialty Division, 1st place; Healthy Lifestyles Invitations, 4th place.
- Diego Childs: Share-the-Fun Poetry, 2nd place; Food Show Main Dish, 4th place; Consumer Decision Making (Individual).
Congratulations to both of these 4-H members. As a first place recipient in Public Speaking and Fashion Show, Rylie has qualified for Texas 4-H Roundup contests to be held in College Station in June. We wish her the best!
At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent. Barbara Bush
Contact Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family & Community Health Agent for Hopkins County at P.O. Box 518, 1200-B West Houston, Sulphur Springs, TX 75483; 903-885-3443; or j[email protected].