A need to multitask, the cost of a fast-paced life

For the past several years, rear-end collisions have been the most common type of auto accident in the U.S. About 2.5 million auto accidents, or some 40 percent of all accidents, are rear-end collisions, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The major cause of these accidents is blamed on distracted driving, which is any activity that diverts attention from driving, such as using a cellphone, eating, reading or talking to others in the vehicle, according to the NHTSA.

In my opinion, the underlying cause of these accidents is the compulsion to multitask behind the wheel. We all live busy lives. It’s tempting to let our minds fixate on our schedules and difficulties, and there are plenty of issues to keep our minds running.

Job security

Many companies are relocating out of the country, and others are closing operations, particularly in the retail realm as onsite shopping makes way for internet sales. A decade ago, few people would have guessed Amazon would become the largest retailer in the world. It is predicted that a quarter of all retail stores in malls will be closed by 2022, according to Credit Suisse.

Family challenges

Family life has become much more complex than just 20 years ago. Eating meals at home is no longer sitting down together to enjoy the experience and to express our thoughts. Our busy schedules have complicated our lives. With both husband and wife working more and more hours each week, the energy for devoting to family matters is taking a back seat. It is hard to understand the strain single-parent families face with each awakening day.

Financial challenges

Incomes for most Americans are not keeping pace with the cost of living. Rent and new home sales prices are both on the increase at a rate in excess of our incomes. New home prices, in Hancock County, are some 8 percent above last year’s market, according to the Realtors Association of Central Indiana.

Saving money

Saving for unplanned expenses and for retirement is at record low levels. With the cost of living continuing to grow and incomes not keeping pace, it is not at all surprising that savings are falling very fast in this country. If a family has two children, the cost of four years of college for both is nearly out of the question. With most major purchases today, almost all offer low interest rates and terms to induce one to buy. Careful thought needs to take place as to need and want in many of these cases.

The above are only a few of the challenges we face daily. Each day brings its own challenges that need to be addressed — just not while you’re behind the wheel.

One change our country is challenged with is rise in the misuse of prescription drugs. The Indiana State Police appear to be overwhelmed with illegal drug movement across the state, to the extent of having to put traffic control on the back burner. Exceeding the speed limits is becoming the norm on most Indiana highways, thus full attention needs to take place with our driving habits.

Driving on the highways today takes much more effort and concentration. For many, the posted speed limit seems to be a suggestion and not the maximum speed limit by law. If one is traveling at 70 mph, the total stopping distance for the typical car, including reaction time is 388 feet or some 24 car lengths. The Indiana driving manual says 3 seconds, which to me, is harder to visualize.

Are you prepared to stop unexpectedly? If you’re not focused on the road, the odds aren’t good.

Dean McFarland writes a column for the Daily Reporter. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfieldreporter.com.