National Distracted Driving Month
April is National Distracted Driving Month, making it a fitting time to regroup and take accountability for our actions on the road.
What is Considered Distracted Driving?
The definition of distracted driving is fairly straightforward: any activity that takes your eyes off the road is considered distracted driving. From drinking your morning coffee to checking on your children in the rearview mirror, even looking away momentarily. Distracted driving is all too common and extremely dangerous. Distractions result in a loss of mental focus that is required to drive safely. According to data, car accidents resulting from distracted driving are in the thousands. And thousands of lives are lost each year (9 per day, to be exact), despite the fact that negligence is preventable.
Only 48 out of the 50 states have a ban on texting while driving. In 2021, a national survey was sent out to Americans to understand their driving habits. 52.5% of drivers admitted to eating while driving. Other behaviors included:
Texting while driving (23.6%)
Taking photos (11.2%)
Applying makeup (6.5%)
Drinking and driving (3.4%)
When thinking about the entire population of the U.S., these numbers are likely higher. With the rise of new technologies, navigation systems and adjusting the different systems in your car add to the list of distractions. By driving distracted, you are robbing yourself of the seconds that you need to avoid an injury or fatal crash.
The obvious consequences of distracted driving are unsettling. During Distracted Driving Awareness Month, you may see increased law enforcement on the roads, specifically looking for those with their eyes anywhere but on the road. The goal of this campaign is to remind drivers of the dangers and consequences of distracted driving, including the fines of texting while driving.
Need to send a text? Pull over in a safe location, only then is it safe to send your message knowing you won’t put yourself or any other drivers on the road in danger. If a text must be sent while on the road, have your passenger be your “designated texter” and allow them to respond to your messages and calls. Lastly, fight the urge to scroll social media while driving. Scrolling is a habit, and we are all guilty of mindlessly opening up Instagram and Facebook without even realizing it.
If you are struggling to keep your phone tucked away while driving, consider putting your phone in the trunk or back seat of your vehicle until you get to your destination.
Remind yourself, your friends, and your family often. If you’re in the driver's seat, the only thing you should be doing is driving. No distractions in order to keep you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road safe. If your driver is texting or otherwise distracted, ask them to focus on the road. While this can be uncomfortable in some cases, it could save a life. Lastly, you could share your pledge on social media as an advocate to spread awareness about distracted driving with the hashtag #JustDrive.
No matter the type of distraction, distracted driving of any sort increases your risk of car crash, injury, or death. Just reaching for an object while driving increases your chance of a car accident by 800%. The bottom line is, pay attention and just drive.