Is that phone call worth the risk?

Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and can cause personal injury and property damage.

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Even with a hands-free device, multi-tasking while driving could have serious consequences.

You’ve seen it before: a vehicle near you is weaving in the traffic lane or traveling well below the speed limit. Chances are that driver is not focused on the road.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are three main types of distractions: visual, in which a driver takes his or her eyes off the road; manual, in which a driver takes his or her hands off the wheel; and cognitive, in which a driver takes his or her mind off the task at hand.

Distracted driving isn’t just about phone calls or text messages.

Many activities that take your attention away from traffic can lead to accidents.

Examples of distracted driving include adjusting a navigation system, eating, grooming, reading, retrieving a dropped item, talking on the phone, texting and watching a video.

Nearly half the states in the United States have restrictions against activities that cause distractions. Some states ban phone use in construction zones and school zones.

Others place restrictions on novice drivers and operators of commercial vehicles, such as large trucks and school buses.

Take the time to research the laws in your state by visiting

The next time you reach for the phone while driving, answer this question: Is this call important enough to risk hurting someone, or can it wait?

Anthony Berryman is an Alabaster State Farm agent. He can be reached at