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 about 8 people in the United States are killed in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.1
  • In 2019 alone, 3,142 lives were lost to distracted driving.2
  • 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.3

And the saddest part of all of this? Ninety-four percent of crashes are caused by driver error4, which means nearly all of them are preventable.

Ending distracted 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.

Distracted driving lesson plans for grades 2-6

“Speak Up for Road Safety: A Distracted Driving Awareness Program” was developed by End Distracted Driving and Safe Roads Alliance to teach 2nd-6th graders about distractions, when a distraction can be a risk to their safety and how to speak up when riding with a distracted driver. The lesson plans are free, easy to download and contain all the resources you need.

Horace Mann has partnered with these organizations to bring this valuable program to as many students as possible. In honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, download the lesson plans today to help educate and empower your students so they stay safer on the road!

1. National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2020, April). Distracted driving 2018 (Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 812 926). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
2. National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2020, December). Overview of motor vehicle crashes in 2019. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 813 060). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
3. https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving
4. Singh, S. (2015, February). Critical reasons for crashes investigated in the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. (Traffic Safety Facts Crash Stats. Report No. DOT HS 812 115). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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