National Safety Council


Distracted Driving Awareness Month

distracted driving

The National Safety Council is recognizing April as distracted driving awareness month!  Many of us are guilty of it, but distracted driving is a dangerous habit that does not only jeopardize the person who is driving, but also anyone else on the road in that vicinity.  When you take a second to pick up your phone or read a text, you take your eyes off of the road for the split second it takes for an accident to occur. Thousands of people die every year because of distracted driving, help spread awareness this April, and set a good example for your own friends and family to follow!

So, how can you help?  First, you can take the pledge to drive cell free.  Starting with your own habits is the best way to end distracted driving, and from there you can convince others to follow your lead.  Did you know that the NSC estimates that 25% of car crashes involve cell phone use?  Those crashes are entirely preventable, and driving is a task that requires the driver’s undivided attention.  Drivers need to have their hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and brain focused on driving.  All three of those things are necessary to drive safely, and ANY cell phone use behind the wheel(even hands free)  is dangerous.

So what else can you do?  Spread the word!  Tell your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone who will listen about the dangers of distracted driving!  If someone calls you while they’re driving, tell them to call you back once they reach their destination.  There are many common myths and misconceptions about distracted driving, and although many people think they can multi-task, it is impossible for the brain to focus on the conversation you are having as well as the road.  You can read more about distracted driving myths in this infographic from the NSC called The Great Multitasking Lie.

If you’re wondering why cell phone use is being targeted as such a dangerous distraction while driving, it’s because there are many more drivers being distracted by cell phone use than anything else!  How often do you see someone putting on makeup or digging around in their car for something?  Definitely not as often as someone is on their cell phone, in fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about 9% of all drivers are talking on their cell phones at any given daylight moment.  This fact sheet from the NSC has more information regarding the scary truths about distracted driving.

Here in Massachusetts, certain types of distracted driving are even illegal.  Using your phone for texting or any internet-related activity is illegal for all drivers in the state, but drivers under 18 are prohibited from any and all cell phone use while driving.  What happens if you get caught texting and driving?  The fine for a first offense is $100, and after that it only goes up.  A second offense will get you a ticket for $250, and after that $500!  Sending a quick text can get pretty pricey if you get caught!  Police officers are having a difficult time enforcing the law, but they are employing new methods to catch distracted drivers!  You can read more about these methods and driving laws here.

If you’re not fully convinced of the dangers of distracted driving, the NSC has compiled these stories from family members of distracted driving victims, the sad thing is that these incidents could have been prevented if the driver simply ignored their phone.  So take the pledge, and start spreading the word about distracted driving this April!

Photo By: OregonDOT

 

What You Need to Know About Teen Drivers & Insurance

When a teenager brings home their driving learner’s permit there are mixed feelings felt throughout the household. Teenagers ecstatic, their freedom and independence from mom and dad has become a reality. Parents on the other hand need to think about their child – and possibly vehicle’s – safety, insurance, a new/ used or shared vehicle, and new rules. Before a teenager is licensed it’s important to know about insurance needs and teenage driving laws. Read the following bullets for a good overview of what you need to know concerning teen drivers & insurance:

  • Be prepared to insure your teenager: Massachusetts requires, by law, that once your teenager earns their licnese and is living in the same household you must add them to your policy. This is something you should talk to your auto insurance agent about when your teenager earns their learner’s permit.
  • For the lucky ones – choosing a vehicle: Know when purchasing a vehicle for your teen you need to focus on not only how much it will cost to insure, but it’s safety as well. An article by the Milford Daily News pointed out that SUVs have a higher roll over rate as they have a higher center of gravity. The article explained that the size of an SUV may give teenagers a false sense of security although they are more prone to roll overs. Smaller vehicles, such as a two door coupe, carry the risk of more serious injuries and fatalities. Researching crash test results, safety reviews, and road tests will help you determine what vehicle is right for your teenager.
  • Know your premium will go up: Auto insurance premiums depend on a number of factors including: year, make and model of the insured vehicle, number of years licensed, zip code/ location, etcetera. Be prepared to pay an extra premium as teenage drivers are a higher risk to insure and can be costly when adding to a policy.
  • Be aware of Massachusetts learner’s permit laws: If your teenager is younger than 18 years they will be driving with a Junior Permit. For the first six months of driving your teenager may not drive friends unless a licensed driver of 21 years or more is in the front passenger seat. Until age 18 your teenager is restricted from driving between 12:30 and 5a.m. unless with a guardian. On the first offense violating this curfew a teenager will face a $100 fine and 60- day license suspension. Speeding is another great concern for teen drivers thus Massachusetts has imposed strict laws with serious consequences if caught speeding on a junior licnese. When a teenager receives his or her first speeding ticket they will face: a 90 day licnese suspension, $50 licnese reinstatement fee, required to take a Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course and State Courts Against Road Rage course (costing approximately $75 each), and must pass the learner’s permit exam and road exam.
  • Advanced driving courses = benefits: Advanced driving courses, although not required to gain or maintain a licnese, these courses give young drivers better knowledge of what to be aware of while driving. Additionally, various auto insurance carriers will give discounts to those who have completed an advanced driving course.

For more information and tips for safe teen driving please visit the National Safety Council: Teen Driving Website.

Should Massachusetts Have a Ban on Text Message Driving?

In a recent article in the Boston Globe, writer Derrick Z. Jackson addresses the ongoing movement toward banning text messaging while driving. Nineteen states have already set implemented bans on texting while driving and the national government has also made moves toward nationalizing the movement. President Obama called distracted driving a “deadly epidemic” and a “menace to society.” The President has already banned text-message driving for federal employees.

It doesn’t stop with the President, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says “I’m on a rampage about this, and I’m not going to let up.’’ Even the CTIA, the wireless industry lobbying group, officially supports bans on text messaging while driving. The lobbying group has also adopted a “neutral” stance on bans of all hands/hands-free communication.

The vice president for research at the National Safety Council, John Ulczycki, released a statement to New York Times regarding the matter.

“2009 will go down as the year that we got national consensus on the dangers of texting. Hopefully, 2010 will be the year we get the same level of attention, if not consensus, on the dangers of conversation.’’

A Virginia Tech study showed that texting increases the risk of an accident 23 times and any use of a cell phone quadruples your risk. Even though studies show the facts, legislation has still not been passed to ban or limit the use of cell phones on the road. A city wide ban has been implemented in Boston on text-message driving but drivers all over the state continue to face injury and death due to distracted driving.

Jackson from the Globe believes “Baddour and Wagner,” Massachusetts House and Senate Chairmen, “need to stop negotiating over outdated nuance when we are talking about the hi-tech equivalent of driving drunk.”

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