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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

picture of a football field with a quote saying "At 55 mph, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field."

Photo Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

On any given day, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes. And these injuries are not just limited to the drivers themselves, but to their passengers and everyone else on the road. For that reason, distracted driving is currently one of the fastest growing safety issues. The goal of Distracted Driving Awareness Month is to raise awareness of this issue and commit to keeping our roads safer. The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education.

As cell phone use continues to grow, not only do we have more people using the technology, those that use it are increasingly doing other things with it. When distracted driving first became a hot topic, it was primarily focused on those making phone calls while driving. Now, people use cell phones to play music, enter addresses for directions, and send text messages while they drive. Think about each time you do one of these things while you drive; in your mind, it may only be a few seconds of glancing down, but studies show that in reality it takes an average of 5-6 seconds. A car driving at 55 miles per hour would cover the entire length of a football field in that time. Imagine how much damage can be done to yourself and others in that time frame.

Furthermore, distracted driving can happen anywhere, at any time. Whether you are driving on the highway or backing out of your driveway, a lack of focus on the road can be fatal. While special attention has always been giving to crashes on highways and rural roads where speeds are higher, there are about 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries due to back up incidents every year. Anytime you are behind the wheel, paying attention could be the difference in preventing a crash.

The only way to tackle this problem is through a multifaceted approach. We have seen engineering solutions like backup cameras become mandatory on new vehicles, and already, many states have stepped up enforcement, issuing tickets for any cell phone use while driving. While this has helped reduce observed cell phone usage in many states across the country, we still have a long way to go in affecting positive change in driver behavior and improving driver education on this issue. 

This April, the National Safety Council (NSC) launches a country-wide campaign to illustrate that hands-free cell phones are not risk-free, and nothing on your cell phone is worth a life. You can visit https://safety.nsc.org/ddam to sign up to get Distracted Driving Awareness Month materials sent to you via e-mail. These free downloadable materials include posters, fact sheets, infographics, social media posts and more. Share these important safety messages at work and in your community to help save lives.

Interested in signing up for a course to help test your behavior, or help teach teens about the importance of focused driving? The NSC also has an online distracted driving course available. The course offers an engaging, interactive format to educate drivers about the risks, dangers and consequences of cell phone use while driving. Participants learn about the science and impact of distracted driving, myths about multitasking, financial and legal ramifications, and links to the NSC’s Distracted Driving Toolkit.

Still time to provide input about mobility needs…. Coping with Continuing Services during theCOVID-19 Pandemic