Did you know that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month? If not, it’s time to take notice. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 10% of crash fatalities and 18% of crash injuries involve distracted drivers. The consequences of distracted driving can be severe, and the problem only seems to be getting worse.

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. There are three general categories of driver distraction, all of which can endanger the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians:

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road.
  • Manual: Taking your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive: Thinking about anything other than driving.

Common driving distractions include:

  • Texting;
  • Using a smartphone;
  • Eating or drinking;
  • Talking to passengers;
  • Grooming;
  • Reading (maps, emails, etc.);
  • Using a navigation system;
  • Watching a video; and
  • Adjusting radios and CD/MP3 players.

Though all distractions can be dangerous, texting is by far the most alarming because it requires a driver’s visual, manual and cognitive attention. Unfortunately, the number of drivers engaging in this behavior has been steadily increasing, even though nearly every state has made it illegal.

  • 14 states have primary enforcement laws prohibiting the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, which allow an officer to cite a driver for using a hand-held phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • 46 states ban text messaging for all drivers, most through primary enforcement laws. A few states, like Florida, have secondary enforcement laws, so drivers cannot be stopped for texting unless another infraction, such as weaving or speeding, is also observed.
  • 38 states ban cell phone use by novice drivers.
  • We’re past the point of denying the consequences of distracted driving, particularly texting while driving. We know too much. Then why are we seeing more and more drivers focusing on their phones instead of the road?
  • Maybe it’s not enough to simply know the consequences of distracted driving. We must also truly understand them. If you don’t think there is a difference between the two, talk to someone who survived a crash caused by a distracted driver or the survivors of someone who didn’t.
  • It’s time for us to change our distracted driving ways. National Distracted Driving Awareness Month makes it the perfect time to start a new habit of avoiding (or at least reducing) driving distractions. It’s particularly important for parents to be vigilant with their driving-aged children. Young drivers and their young passengers need to hear about the dangers of distracted driving early and often.

Please contact us if you would like more information about protecting against the damage caused by distracted drivers.

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