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