In the last three years motor vehicle fatalities have jumped up at least 6% according to the National Safety Council and distracted driving is a major contributor. For every second it takes for you to check your phone, change a song, or reach across the seat to grab for an item, you could take the life of a pedestrian or fellow motorist on the road.
Distracted Driving Is 100% Preventable
In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 3,477 lives lost and 391,000 people injured due to distracted driving accidents, all in which were preventable. To spread further awareness about the dangers of this trend, April has been named National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in hopes to save lives through public education and serious penalties for distracted motorists.
Reducing Distracted Driving Deaths
Across the United States, police departments and public organizations are observing Distracted Driving Awareness Month by launching state and national safety campaigns geared towards bringing more attention to this prevailing issue.
- U Text. U Drive. U Pay: Started by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this national campaign is focused on aiding law enforcement officers in cracking down on drivers caught texting and driving by placing hefty fines on violators.
- Operation Hang Up: In New York between the dates of April 12 to April 16, New York State Police will be heavily fining drivers caught using their phones by using both marked and unmarked police vehicles all across the state.
- Heads Up Phone Down: This informative report released in March of this year by Life360 aims to educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving and to teach drivers how not to fall victim to road distractions.
Types Of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving causes 25% of all fatal vehicle accidents according to Safe Start, and that percentage does not include the number of people injuries or the distracted drivers who just had a ‘close call’. If drivers are not paying attention to the road, what exactly are they doing in their vehicles that is causing so much harm to others?
- ‘Daydreaming’: Sometimes all it takes for drivers to get into an accident is the distraction of their own mind. In data gathered on vehicle accidents between 2010-2011, general distractions accounted for 62% of fatal accidents in just these two years.
- Talking on the phone or texting: At least 26% of car accidents are caused by drivers using their cell phones according to the National Safety Council. Whether you’re checking a text or on a hands-free call, there is never a safe way to use the phone while driving.
- Using electronics: The NHTSA reports an estimated 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while driving during the day, each with an equal chance of missing a pedestrian or car when glancing away. Electronics include phones, GPS’s, tablets, laptops, radios, Bluetooth devices, and more.
- Looking at the GPS: A GPS may show you where to turn when driving, but it won’t show you the pedestrian crossing the road in front of you when you look away. GPS related accidents are becoming more common and more dangerous than ever.
- Chatting with friends: Passengers can be a major distraction for drivers, especially if they are constantly looking to their right or in the review mirror to make eye contact when speaking.
- Moving stuff around: Drivers can get into serious accidents just by reaching over to grab something such as cellphones falling between seats or favorite children’s toys they cannot wait to have.
- Eating, drinking, smoking, or putting on make up: Most of us are guilty of these personal behaviors while in the car, but doing them while you are actively driving is extremely dangerous, taking your hands from the wheel and eyes off the roads.
Multitasking Is A Myth…Pay Attention
If you are a driver who believes they are capable of safely doing more than one task while driving, you have only been lucky so far. Multitasking while driving is a myth. When your brain is distracted while driving, you are only seeing about 50% of the driving environment according to the National Safety Council, even if you believe you are focused 100%.
Each and every time you get behind the wheel, remember that your driving can affect the lives of others. Ignore devices, hide your phone, lower the music, and make it clear to your friends you need to avoid distractions before you even put the car in drive. If an emergency arises, if an important call comes through, or if Mickey Mouse falls under the seat, don’t take the risk- pull the car over to save a life.