Eyes on the road

Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 10:54 p.m.

If you happen to be reading this while driving, please stop. Kindly put down your newspaper and focus on the road.

As bizarre as that request may sound, it's not as unlikely a scenario as it might seem, according to a recent survey commissioned by Nationwide Mutual Insurance. Five percent of the survey's 1,200 respondents said they have read a newspaper, magazine or book while driving.

That's a small percentage, fortunately. And hopefully they were referring to scanning headlines at a stoplight. But, unfortunately, the survey indicates reading is one of many diversions on the road these days.

As USA Today recently reported, 80 percent of those surveyed by Nationwide consider themselves multitaskers behind the wheel, capable of engaging in activities ranging from eating a snack to chatting on a cell phone to putting on makeup. All of us have likely taken our eyes off the road for a moment. But it's important to remember, distractions can easily turn deadly.

AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that driver distraction is at least partly to blame in 25 percent to 50 percent of vehicle accidents.

Drivers who divert their attention for two seconds or longer are nearly twice as likely as attentive drivers to collide with another vehicle or to have a near-miss, according to AAA and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

If it's a task you can accomplish elsewhere, it's better to do it there than behind the wheel.

As much as we love to see people reading newspapers, you really shouldn't try to navigate current events while navigating through traffic.

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