OPINION| Students are distracted drivers

Dugi Lee, a senior mechanical engineering major from Seoul, South Korea, juggles many distractions while driving. Writer Nasya Mancini urges students to consider the weight that lies on them when they are driving. Photo by Misha Mosiichuk.

Share This:

Students are becoming more distracted while driving ultimately putting their lives and someone else’s life in danger.

Since September of this year, there have been 22 reported car accidents in and around the St. George area all with major injuries. The St. George Police Department has reported five within the last week.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among college students. According to Brooks Law Group, the most recent national data shows 5,623 college students have been accident victims and have died within a single year. 

As college students, our heads aren’t always in the right place, we are thinking about the long list of daunting tasks we have to accomplish. Most of the time, I think about these tasks while I’m driving. Am I paying attention to the road,? Yes, but my mind is somewhere else, ultimately leading to a distraction.

College students need to understand the weight that lies on them when they are operating a vehicle. It’s important to recognize that if they are doing any “secondary task distraction,” this can result in a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states there are three main types of distractions: Visual, manual and cognitive distractions. 

There is a multitude of factors which put college students at a higher risk for car accidents. 

  • Moving to a different city or town: A new place means new navigation. Take some time to explore your new city to get familiar with the roads you will be driving and traffic patterns. 
  • Not a lot of driving proficiency: It’s no secret college students are always worried about where they are going next, this can cause reckless driving like speeding, not obeying traffic laws, and not looking out for pedestrians. Brooks Law Group suggests to get more comfortable behind the wheel. In this situation, practice does make perfect and makes you and others safer. 
  • Distracted Driving: We have all been there. Rushing from one class to another trying to stuff food into our mouths. As much as we think eating isn’t a huge distraction, it is. You’re unwrapping the food, taking your hands off of the wheel, holding food with one hand or applying condiments. By paying attention to another task while driving, you are distracting yourself so you are not fully aware of what is happing around you. A study that Lytx, a global leader in video-based driver safety technology, conducted showed people who are eating or drinking while driving are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in an accident. 
  • Texting while Driving: You’re waiting on an important text…and you finally receive it, but don’t pick it up. Wait until you have reached your destination to read it. You can also enable “driving mode” on phones so you don’t get distracted by calls or texts while you are driving. In Utah, you can receive a $750 dollar fine, a misdemeanor on your record, and possibly up to three months in jail if you are caught texting while driving.

Next time you are thinking about pulling your phone out, changing the radio station, eating or even taking a sip of your drink, you might want to understand there are penalties that can lie ahead. Don’t distract yourself while you are driving. Keep your eyes on the road because whatever it is, it can wait. 

“When you’re driving, just drive,” Brooks Law Group said.