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Most of us are a bit guilty of being a distracted driver
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This column should be entitled, "Confessions of an iPhone user." I suspect, however, that I am certainly not alone in my guilt of using my iPhone while driving.

I know. Big no-no.

I know it's a big no-no because I have found myself drifting or being startled about traffic stopped ahead because I was using the darn thing. It's at those moments when I throw the darn thing down in the seat in anger at myself and say, "Knock it off. It's not worth it."

It truly isn't. I have committed myself to abstaining from the device while my eyes should be on the road.

What really got to me was a commercial produced by some government agency that shows the carnage of an accident, female body ejected onto roadway and the camera creeping up on a dead teen driver sitting upright in his crashed car with a cell phone resting in his relaxed hand which was texting prior to the deadly crash. That eerie one really affects me. I simply don't want that to be me or anyone else I know.

Distracted driving is nothing new. Before there were cell phones, the common joke was how women used to apply makeup in the mirror while driving down the road. At the peak of commuters in the 1990s, friends would tell of people who shaved or read the newspaper while making the two-hour trek to their Bay Area job. I had a friend in high school who crashed his car head-on into a telephone pole because he was swatting a bee or wasp out of the window and lost focus on where his truck was going.

Even a regular cell phone is not as tempting to use while driving. I get that. I mean, I have everything on my iPhone. My music is there, so is eBay, texting, news, facebook, Words with Friends, iHeart radio, my map app among many others.

But I don't want to find myself rear-ending someone or drifting into the driver next to me because I want to see what my latest eBay auction is fetching. After all, whatever the latest auction will fetch will certainly pale in comparison to the cost of a good old car crash with multiple injuries.

We live in a world of multi-tasking and while many of us also engage in the same distracted driving behavior, we often don't consider ourselves as a risk to others in a similar situation. The reality is, once our attention is diverted from driving, even for a split second, the likelihood of causing a car crash increases tremendously.

According to studies done by Virginia Tech and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number one source of driver inattention is the use of a wireless device. While it's no surprise that these advanced technological devices are widespread, the potential outcome of people using these devices while driving is cause for concern. Driving while using a cell phone, whether hand-held or wireless, reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent (Carnegie Mellon), and delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of 0.08 percent (University of Utah). This decreased reaction time means that, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, you are four times more likely to get into a car crash and cause injury to yourself or someone else.

In California in 2011, the Department of Motor Vehicles reported that there were 460,487 hand-held cell phone convictions - up 22 percent from 361,260 convictions in 2010 and 52 percent from 301,833 in 2009. The cost of a ticket for a first offense is a minimum of $159, and $279 for subsequent offenses. While those costs may seem steep, it's really nothing when you consider that the offender could have easily hurt or killed someone through their inability to pay full attention to the road ahead.

We all need to make it a point to set aside our distractions, and encourage those you know to do the same.

Having a trip result in a car crash due to daily, yet avoidable, distractions is never an actual belief for most of us, but it is a likely result. For more information regarding distracted driving facts, please visit

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