April 2019- Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Posted on March, 11th 2019
As vehicle technology improves, today’s drivers are potentially more distracted than ever. Whether it is texting, using vehicle internet accessibility, eating on the go, or simply dealing with children in the backseat, there could be a lot more than driving going on while behind the wheel. Indeed, as more and more young people who have grown up with cell phone technology as the norm take to the road, the numbers involving distracted driving have been on the rise. With over 40,000 people having died on our nation’s roadways last year, distracted driving remains one of the greatest public health issues facing our country.
While tackling distracted driving is important every day, April has been designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month in an attempt to focus on this growing issue. While we have seen more and more accidents attributed to distracted driving, the reality of the matter is that it is still severely underreported in crashes. There is no currently known methodology to accurately determine how many crashes actually involve cell phone use, forcing police that respond to crashes to rely on a driver admitting cell phone use. This is often difficult as most drivers do not want to admit to distracted driving or misdiagnosing how distracted they are. The underreporting of such incidents may affect downstream funding decisions, media attention, legislation, and future enforcement
One of the greatest challenges in dealing with distracted driving is that a large number of drivers feel that their risky behavior is acceptable- or at the very least, not as dangerous as it sounds. When polled on types of distracted driving, most teens were familiar with cell phone usage, but very few recognized having friends in the car, dashboard infotainment systems, or eating on the go as also being sources of distraction. To address these challenges, here are some helpful tips for safe driving:
- Make vehicle adjustments before your trip; changing settings on mirrors, music stations, or inputting addresses onto a GPS system are as dangerous as texting. Both take your eyes off the road and focus your cognitive ability on something else.
- Put aside electronic devices; cell phones never be used while driving.
- Avoid eating while driving or putting on makeup while driving.
- Limit the amount of passengers inside your car.
- If you notice a driver in your vehicle is driving distracted, speak up.
The reality of the situation is, there is no safe way to drive while distracted. Even hands free usage has been shown to increase the risk of accidents while driving. This April, start taking steps to protect yourself and the ones you love from this growing crisis. The National Safety Council, along with its sponsor Wheels, have released the free NSC Safe Driving Toolkit which is available for free download. This kit contains materials designed to share with employees, videos and factsheets, infographics, and large scale images that can be used as posters. The toolkit also comes with a variety of links and resources that can be shared across your organization to help raise awareness.
Join the thousands who have used the National Safety Council kit to improve safe driving education across the country!