April is Distracted Driving Awareness month. Based on reports by the NHTSA, over 3,100 people were killed and more than 420,000 were injured in distracted driving related crashes in 2013. We all know that number just keeps getting higher as more and more distractions are available to drivers.
Keep in mind that distracted driving is not limited to talking and texting on cell phones, though that is the largest culprit. Anything that distracts a driver from the road – eating, grooming, talking to passengers, navigation systems, changing the radio station – can be considered dangerous and distracting. Driving is a skill; it takes a person’s visual, manual and cognitive attention. Anything that takes a driver’s eyes, hands or mind away from the task of driving can slow reaction time, cause drivers to fail to identify hazards in the roadway or cause a driver to miss a stop sign or signal. The most disturbing thing is that largest group of people texting while driving are young, inexperienced drivers.
We all agree that distracted driving is dangerous, it is a no brainer. However, there is a very real disconnect between this knowledge and driver’s actual behavior. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index found more than a 25% of drivers admitted to typing or sending a text or email, even though almost 80% agreed that doing so is a very serious threat to safety, and 84% affirmed it is completely unacceptable under any circumstances.
Some tips to break this hazardous habit and potentially save lives:
- Use an app that let’s people know you are behind the wheel – AT&T, Verizon & Sprint all have versions
- Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting the car
- Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver starts to text – offer to make the call or send a text for them
- Pull off the road and park the car if you MUST make a call or text
- Talk to your kids about distracted driving, show them video and create consequences if they text and drive
Be safe out there!