April has been dubbed national Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council, as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA).
For the past several years, these national organizations have joined with local and regional groups across the country to fight against the epidemic of fatal motor vehicle accidents caused by drivers distracted from the task of driving.
Distracted driving is killing a terrifying number of Americans each year. Eight (8) people die each day in the United States from injuries sustained in a Distracted Driving Accident according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And that’s understood to be a conservative estimate because distracted driving is a cause that often goes undiscovered or unreported.
April 2017 is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
This year, NHTSA is promoting a national campaign under the banner of “U Drive – U Text – U Pay” during the first weekend of April 2017. It has a social media blitz scheduled during the month, as well. The National Security Council is advancing its “Just Drive” Campaign for the entire month of April.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Most drivers are aware that using their cell phone to text message while they are behind the wheel is dangerous distracted driving. However, “Distracted Driving” is much more than texting while driving.
From an accident perspective, driving distracted is doing anything that takes your focus away from driving your car, truck, SUV, minivan, pickup truck, or RV. It can be lots of things.
Drivers who are eating while they drive can be driving distracted. Someone who is talking on their phone, hands-free, is driving distracted. Changing the music on the stereo can distract a driver.
Even taking a sip from your coffee mug on the way to work may be distracting you from driving.
Of course, the most dangerous form of distracted driving – and the greatest concern for many experts – is texting while driving. Many people do text while driving. It’s very dangerous to do so.
Reading a text takes your eyes off the road. Research shows that if your eyes leave the road for five (5) seconds, and you’re on the highway going 55 mph, then your car has covered the length of a football field without you watching where it’s going. You might as well drive with a blindfold during that time gap.
April 6 – 10: “U Drive – U Text – U Pay”
The NHTSA awareness campaign involves working with law enforcement. The federal agency is working with local police and state troopers who monitor traffic conditions and work to keep distracted drivers off the roads.
The goal? To stop and arrest drivers who are caught driving distracted during the Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign.
In many states, distracted driving is a crime. (Distracted driving is a criminal offense in Indiana and in Illinois. More on this subject in our next post.)
April 3 – 10: “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All”
NHTSA is also promoting a social media awareness campaign during the first full week of April 2017. From April 3rd to April 10th there will be messages sent on the dangers of distracted driving on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets.
Here, the focus is influencing and educating drivers about the real dangers of driving distracted.
Messages will be sent during this seven day time frame to alert drivers to the variety of ways that they may be distracted from driving and how best to keep their focus on the road.
April 1 – 30: “Just Drive”
During the entire month of April 2017, the NSC will be working with organizations across the country in all sorts of efforts to boost awareness of the distracted driving epidemic.
The Just Drive Pledge:
“I pledge to Just Drive for my own safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose to not drive distracted in any way – I will not:
Have a phone conversation – handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
Text or send Snapchats
Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media
Check or send emails
Take selfies or film videos
Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
Call or message someone else when I know they are driving.”
Teen Drivers Greatest Risk of Distracted Driving Accident
Studies show that of all drivers, including commercial drivers of trucks, buses, and cabs, it is the teenager behind the wheel who is most likely to drive distracted. For instance, in research compiled by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the numbers are shocking.
Over 50% of teen drivers admit that they use their phones while they are driving a motor vehicle. The AAA study also found that 25% of teen drivers admit to texting while driving – and that they had texted while driving within 30 days of being questioned for the AAA study.
Teen drivers are a primary target for the April 2017 Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It’s vital for teen drivers to understand the serious danger of distracted driving before they are involved in a serious or fatal traffic accident.
Let’s All Support Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Here in Indiana and Illinois, people are seriously injured, and many perish, in motor vehicle accidents each year. Almost all of these accidents are preventable tragedies.
Once again, we support the efforts of everyone working to spread the word about distracted driving and working to end this public epidemic.
In our next post, we focus on distracted driving as it impacts our area and the roadways of Indiana and Illinois. Let’s be careful out there!