Distracted driving awareness

texting while driving image

Although April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, this issue deserves your attention year round every single time you get behind the wheel.

Distracted driving isn’t just texting or talking on your cell phone – it’s anything that diverts your attention from the task of safe driving. It could be turning your head to talk to someone in the back seat, messing with the stereo or navigation system, or even attempting to eat that breakfast sandwich on your way to work.

Most of us have been driving for years. We feel comfortable behind the wheel and confident we can handle a little multitasking en route to our destination. But the reality is: You simply can’t drive safely unless it has your full attention. So the next time you’re tempted to send that quick text or look up those directions, consider these consequences.

  • Every day in the U.S., approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
  • In 2016 alone, 3,450 lives were lost to distracted driving.
  • 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.
  • Texting takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds – at 55 mph, that’s long enough to drive the length of an entire football field.

And the saddest part of all of this? Ninety-four percent of crashes are caused by driver error, which means nearly all of them are preventable.

Ending distracting driving starts with recognizing the dangers of this behavior and eliminating distractions. Here are some tips to help keep you and everyone else safer on the road.

  • Before you even start your car, turn off or silence your electronic devices and put them out of reach. If you have to use your phone, pull over and stop the vehicle before doing so. Remember, many states now have laws banning cell phone use and texting while driving.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re the passenger of someone who’s driving distracted. Offer to make the phone call, pick the radio station, search for directions or send the text so he or she can stay focused on the road.
  • If you’re a parent, talk to your kids about safe, responsible driving and set a good example behind the wheel.
  • Make sure everyone wears a seat belt – it’s the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from unsafe, distracted drivers.

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Safety Council

WBTL-0739 (Apr. 19)

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