April is Distractive Driving Awareness Month

In 2016 and 2017, deaths as the result of a motor vehicle accidents exceeded more than 40,000, according to the National Safety Council. Distractive driving is the cause of a large number of those deaths. These fatalities can be prevented.

Whether you realize it or not, driving a motor vehicle can be a risky undertaking. If the driver is not focused on what is happening on the road in front of them, then one unexpected sudden action can result in an auto accident that can result in death, injury, or both.

Pedestrians are victims of distractive driving, too. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, from 2013 through 2017, 7,661 pedestrians were involved in auto accidents.

April is Distractive Driving Awareness Month.  The special designation occurred by an act of the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2010.  Former Representative Betsy Markey (D-CO) sponsored the Resolution, which was passed by a vote of 410-2. Now promoted by the National Safety Council, of Itasca, Illinois, the event is to encourage driving safety.

What Is Distractive Driving?

Distracted driving is not only texting while driving. It is any time the driver takes his or her eyes off the road, his or her hands off the steering wheel, or his or her mind off the task at hand, which is driving safely. Activities that a driver can take that involves distracted driving include:

  • Texting
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading anything including a map
  • Glancing at the screen of a navigation system
  • Online on the Internet
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio or CD or MP3 player

Distracted Driving Facts

There are a plethora of reasons why Distractive Driving Awareness Month is necessary. Consider this:

  • 13% of drivers age 18-20 who was involved in a traffic accident admit to texting or talking on their mobile phone at the time of the crash.
  • 82% of Americans age 16-17 own a mobile phone.
  • 34% admit to texting while driving.
  • 52% admit that they talk on a mobile phone while driving.
  • 77% of young adults are convinced that they can safely text while driving.

However, teenagers learn their driving habits watching their parents as they drive and statistics show that adults are also involved in distracted driving. For example:

  • 48% of young drivers have seen their parents talk on a cell phone while driving.
  • 15% of young drivers have seen their parents text while driving.
  • 27% of adult drivers have sent or received a text while driving.
  • 48% of children age 12 to 17 have been in a car while the driver was texting.
  • 1 in 5 drivers of all ages admit to viewing the Internet while driving.

Driving Awareness Tips

During the month of April, the National Safety Council (NSC) has a number of programs to promote road safety. For example, the group has created a number of distracted driving messages that it is sharing. These include infographics, posters, fact sheets, and social media-friendly graphics.  The materials can be obtained from the National Safety Council website.

In addition, the group will be presenting a free webinar on the subject titled: Engaging Ways To Address Distracted Driving at Work. The video will be shown on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 11 a.m. Central Time.

The NSC is also encouraging drivers to pledge to be an attentive driver. It encourages people to share their pledge on social media.

The NSC points out that states and territories of the United States are taking steps to encourage drivers to drive safely. For example, Puerto Rico has come up with non-intersection pedestrian crossings in urban areas of San Juan. They have raised the crosswalks, which makes pedestrians more visible to drivers and requires drivers to slow down as they drive over them.

The group is also recommending a number of apps that help to discourage drivers from accepting text messages. An Auto Responder app sends out a pre-written message to callers when you get instant messages or emails alerting the messenger that you are driving and can’t accept the message. There is also a Text Blocker app that prevents teens from texting while driving and which disables texting when the vehicle he or she is driving is traveling more than 10 mph.

The NSC also notes that 43 states of the United States have passed laws prohibiting drivers from texting. These states require any driver who is caught texting to pay a fine of $20 to $500. In addition, 15 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam prohibit drivers from using a hand-held phone. Thirty- eight states and the District of Columbia forbid the use of cell phones by novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. forbid the use of cell phones by bus drivers.

On Friday, March 27, 2018 the Georgia General Assembly passed a bill that requires drivers to use hands-free technology when using a mobile phone or other electronic device while driving.

The law prohibits drivers from:

    Using any part of their body to hold or support a mobile phone or other stand-alone electronic device including an iPod or tablet.
  • Writing, sending, or reading text communications while holding their mobile phone or stand-alone electronic device.
  • Reaching for an electronic communications device if they are no longer in a seated or driving position or is properly restrained by a seatbelt when reaching for said device.
  • Watching a video or movie other than navigation data on mapping app or GPS screen.

The law permits drivers to:

  • Speak or text while using a hands-free device.
  • Use a GPS system or mapping app.
  • Wear and use a smart watch.
  • Use an earpiece to talk on a phone.
  • Use a radio, CB radio, CB radio hybrid, commercial two-way radio, subscription-based emergency communication device, prescribed medical device, amateur or ham radio and “in-vehicle security, navigation or remote diagnostics” system.
  • Use a mobile phone or other electronics device when parked off or beside the road or in a parking lot.

(Source:  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Eichholz Law Firm encourages all drivers to visit the National Safety Council website to learn more about distractive driving and what you can do to drive safely and participate in NSC events during the month of April.