The dangers of driving while distracted.

The dangers of driving while distracted. Credit: iStock

We’ve all done it, and probably have gotten away with it for years, taking our eyes, not to mention our focus, off the road ahead.

Drivers have fiddled with CDs and cassettes, turned to retrieve a toy for a crying child in the back seat or opened a sandwich or soda. The distractions got worse with cellphones, but the problem has exploded with texting on smartphones. Since this is National Distracted Driving Awareness month, it’s as good a time as any to remind ourselves to stop. Nearly 3,500 people were killed and hundreds of thousands injured in distracted driving crashes in 2015, according to federal records.

Taking your eyes off the road for even five seconds at a speed of 55 mph means you drove the length of a football field without looking. Bad things are going to happen. In New York, tickets for using a cellphone while driving have steadily declined while summonses for texting have risen by 918 percent in the past six years. That doesn’t mean we’re talking less, just that more drivers are using hands-free methods. But even those conversations can shift your attention away from the road.

Choose the phone or the wheel, not both. At least not until there are driverless cars. — The editorial board