Keep your eyes on the road

Published 9:59 pm Thursday, February 8, 2018

Suffolk residents and visitors have been doing a great job lately of keeping our roads safe, and we hope everyone can help keep it that way.

In December, the Pilot Club’s Safety Tree stayed green all month long, indicating that there were no fatal crashes in the city during the holiday season. In fact, it has been a pretty safe season overall for drivers in Suffolk.

However, one of the city’s trouble spots, according to crash statistics, is Portsmouth Boulevard.

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Responding to a question from Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett during Wednesday’s City Council meeting about what he perceives as a high number of recent crashes on Portsmouth Boulevard, Police Chief Thomas Bennett said many accidents are caused by driver inattention.

We can believe that. Distracted driving is known as a major cause of traffic accidents.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives nationwide in 2015 alone. About 391,000 people were injured in that year alone as a result of distracted driving. The NHTSA estimates about 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while driving.

The NHTSA also reported for 2015 that 10 percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of crashes involving injuries and 14 percent of all crashes were caused by distraction.

Whether it’s texting or messing with some other form of technology or the old standbys that have distracted drivers for decades — such as dashboard controls and kids in the backseat — there are too many things that have the potential to draw a driver’s attention away from the all-important business of driving a car.

It’s time for all of us to recommit ourselves to not driving distracted. Let the kids scream and hit each other. Let the billboards go unread. Let your stomach growl until you get to the office. Let the police and rescue workers do their job without you rubbernecking. And most of all, let that text wait. None of it is worth your life or someone else’s.