April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month…so put the cell phones away and keep your eyes on the road!
The good news: there’s been a drop in the number of deaths and accidents due to distracted driving over the last six years.
The bad news: more than 3,000 people still lost their lives and more than 420,000 were injured in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
To call attention to this ongoing problem during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the American Trucking Associations has created a special page on its Website. Here are some eye-opening facts from the American Trucking Associations:
- When you text or read a text message, your eyes are off the road for 4.6 seconds on average. If you’re traveling at 55MPH, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field – blindfolded.
- If you’re texting while driving, you’re 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a non-distracted driver.
- Talking on a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity devoted to driving by 37%.
But today we live in a plugged-in world. It may sometimes seem as though we can’t go five minutes without connecting to someone or some social platform. And that’s especially true for younger drivers. According to an NHTSA press release, in 2013, 10% of all drivers 15 to 19 years old, involved in fatal crashes, were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. So it’s essential that we keep harping on the problem of distraction with our kids, no matter how many times they roll their eyes.
So what can be done? Some problems are difficult to solve, some require complex actions; but not when it comes to distracted driving, the solutions couldn’t be easier or more obvious. Here, safety is just a matter of commonsense:
- Focus – hands on the wheel…eyes on the road…constantly.
- Dump the devices – Put away the cell phones, the iPods, and the tablets while you’re driving. If you must engage with these devices, pull over to the side of the road.
- Plan ahead – Make sure you plan your trip ahead of time so you’re not staring at a navigation screen instead of the highway.
To be fair, it’s likely that most of us have been guilty of driving while distracted at some point or another. We get complacent…are positive that we’re in control…or we just plain forget. And it’s not just about texting and cell phones. It can be focusing on the navigation system instead of the road ahead or turning around to talk to someone in the back seat or unwrapping that burger to take a bite. No matter the reason, taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds can spell the difference between a safe drive and a disaster.
We urge all drivers, commercial and private, to make Distracted Driving Awareness Month a year-round event.