According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving was responsible for the death of 3,142 people in 2020. This April, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) is not only honoring National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and highlighting the correlation between gambling preoccupations and distracted driving, but we are also focusing on sharing ways to keep you safe on the road.
One of the major signs of a gambling problem is a constant preoccupation with placing bets, checking online wagers, and finding additional funds with which to gamble. This never-ending brain chatter inherently leads to compulsive gamblers being very distracted while completing daily activities, including driving. Whether they are driving to a gambling facility and anticipating their experiences there, leaving a casino and ruminating on their losses, or listening to the radio for updates on sports bets, gamblers’ minds are everywhere but the road ahead. As those who gamble deal with pending consequences of their losses and the ramifications, they may have on those they love, exhaustion and desperation can be a dangerous combination as they make their way to their destination.
Studies show that problem gambling has a similar effect on the brain as alcohol, however when someone crashes their car after compulsively gambling, they normally don’t classify it as what it is — impaired driving.  Compulsive gamblers often feel a loss of control so if you ever do and find yourself walking to your car, stop yourself, go back in and talk with someone there or better yet call or text FCCG’s Your One Sure Thing 888-ADMIT IT for help in that moment. Someone is there 24/7 to support and help you find what you need to stay safe.
Exacerbating the issue, online and mobile gambling have taken driving distractions to a new level. Texting and driving is a major and growing issue for today’s population, from drivers and passengers to pedestrians, and checking online bets, stocks/cryptocurrency trading apps, or even playing online casino games while behind the wheel can lead to fatal consequences.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving Due to Gambling Preoccupations
Put your phone away – Distracted driving and phone usage go hand in hand. If the temptation to check online bets, sports results, or other apps is too much to resist, a good strategy is to leave cellphones out of reach while driving. Place your phone in the trunk of your car to ensure you are not able to check it from the driver’s seat.
Listen to support materials in audio format – Available through the Problem Gambling HelpLine, the FCCG’s A Chance for Change Recovery Workbooks can be provided in audio format, allowing gamblers to listen to supportive content while driving. With series available for seniors, youth gamblers and even loved ones of problem gamblers, you can arm yourself with knowledge and practical tips to manage and recover from problem gambling.
If you or someone you know could be at risk due to distracted driving related to problem gambling, the time to get help is NOW. Through Your One Sure Thing, Florida’s Problem Gambling HelpLine, 888-ADMIT-IT, compulsive gamblers and their loved ones can access resources including speaking to a highly trained specialist able to listen without judgement and offer actionable steps towards recovery. Don’t wait to seek support — these resources are available for free 24/7 for all Floridians.
- Stewart, Timothy. “Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2020.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, March 2022. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813266.
- “Alcoholism and Gambling Addiction.” Alcohol Rehab Guide, 31 Oct. 2022, https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/resources/dual-diagnosis/alcoholism-and-gambling-addiction/.