Wednesday, March 29, 2017

By Janet Bigelow of Advanced Tire & Auto Center   Aberdeen N.J.

Driving Safer Amid Disturbing Roadway Trends


Our roads are deadlier than ever—and texting is only part of the problem. But this is not all about teens and texting. The truth is that distracted driving is a big problem for older adults, too.   

According to the latest stats, 40,200 people died in roadway accidents across the United States last year. When you add in the numbers from 2015 (37,757 deaths), it marks the largest two-year jump in motor vehicle-related fatalities in 53 years!    

At Advanced Tire & Auto Center (146 Hwy. 35 North in Aberdeen), we see the results of distracted driving on a daily basis. With all the latest and greatest technologies available at your fingertips, it’s hard for most people not to be distracted while driving.  A typical car today is Wi-Fi enabled with large touch screens where you can do almost anything—listen to Pandora, check your Facebook page and email accounts. Manufacturers have also begun to migrate all of the vehicle’s driving and comfort controls to the touchscreen, forcing drivers to spend more time focused on the screen rather than the road. Time spent scrolling through menus to perform simple tasks like turning on your heated seat, adjusting climate controls or even reading messages sent by the manufacturer to alert you to upcoming maintenance needs can create an unsafe environment.     

What can you do to protect yourself and your family from distracted driving?   

For starters, make a commitment to keep your eyes on the road. Sometimes, that might mean foregoing your desire to listen to a different song, change a vent setting or otherwise look at the touchscreen. To encourage other members of the family to develop the same attitude and habits, consider sitting down as a family and watching a film like “One Second to the Next,” available on YouTube. These interviews with distracted drivers and their victims go beyond statistics to truly hammer home the dangers.    

It’s also a good idea to get extremely familiar with the menus and functionality of your car’s dashboard display. In fact, you should actually practice using the technology. This will help you avoid, say, getting rear-ended because you were sitting at a red light, trying to figure out how to start Pandora, when the light turned green. If you’re going to use it, learn how to use it quickly and accurately. (But avoid using it while the car is in motion.)   

None of this is to suggest that dashboard technologies are the only cause of distracted driving. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid glancing at your phone or texting whenever you’re in the car. Commit to this and stick to it.   

Of course, you can also consider buying a vehicle with life-saving technologies. Vehicles with rearview camera systems, electronic stability control or more advanced features such as auto emergency-braking, adaptive cruise control or blind-spot monitoring can save your life when you run out of skill, luck or talent. However, we all still need to be mindful of the potential distractions these technologies can cause if not used properly.

The new technologies in today’s vehicles are essentially a prelude to the new wave of futuristic, driverless cars. Many observers think the phenomenon could one day dramatically reduce roadway accidents and fatalities, possibly even to zero. But until that happens, keep your eyes on the road, and stay safe!   

Working closely with collision centers and insurance companies, Advanced is among only a handful of Independent Repair facilities in New Jersey with the capabilities and certifications to repair the advanced collision-avoidance systems found on today’s vehicles. Accordingly, we understand how these technologies are changing our driving habits—for better and worse.