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Safety Office: Stay alert while driving

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Distracted driving encompasses a wide range of activities that the average person does on nearly a daily basis.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists the most common occurrences as texting, using a cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading, using navigation systems, watching videos and adjusting the radio.

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. An additional 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Young drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 have the highest incidents of crash or near crash experience at 23 percent, and report almost twice as many crashes as the next highest age group, 21-24.

In a random survey, 25 percent of polled individuals said texting does not affect their driving positively or negatively. However, studies show texting while driving creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted, making it by far the most dangerous driving distraction of all. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field blind at 55 miles per hour.

While behind the wheel of a vehicle, it is our responsibility to have 100 percent focus on the task at hand. The best thing one can do is remove as many distractions from driving as possible, before hitting the road.