BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The number of road deaths rose across the country last year, including in Alabama.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic crashes killed more people in the United States in 2021 than any year since 2005. NHTSA projects that about 42,915 people died in traffic crashes last year, an increase of 10.5% from 38,824 deaths. in 2020.
Benjamin McManus, deputy director of UAB’s Translational Research for Injury Prevention Laboratory (TRIP Lab), said that while not as high as the national increase, Alabama saw 6% of more deaths on the roads in 2021 than in 2020.
Asked about new distractions the TRIP Lab has noticed in recent years, McManus said smartwatches are becoming a distraction for drivers on the road.
Not only do they light up when you receive a notification, but they can also vibrate. Watches constantly demand your attention.
McManus says they work like a cell phone by looking away from the road. He wants to remind drivers that hands-free doesn’t always mean a free mind.
“Even if both of our hands are on the wheel, as that would be the safest solution, if our mind is not on driving, if we are thinking of a conversation, we are thinking of a schedule, an event, an e- mail, whatever it is,” he said. “Every time we don’t think about driving, it’s going to slow down our reaction time and every other aspect of safe driving behaviors.
McManus says the best thing to keep you and your passengers safe is to keep your mind and eyes on the road.
Only a few seconds of distraction could be fatal.
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