Photo of crash due to distracted driving, courtesy of AAA

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

From AAA

As traffic begins to pick up across the country, with increased vaccinations and decreased pandemic restrictions, AAA – The Auto Club Group reminds drivers about the importance of focusing on the road ahead and not on their smartphones during Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

According to 2019 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Distracted driving crashes killed 3,142 people in the United States – an average of 9 deaths per day.
  • That number was up 10 percent from the year before (2,839 deaths in 2018).
  • In Florida alone, there were 240 fatal crashes that involved a distracted driver, resulting in 258 fatalities in 2019.
  • Click here to view more information from AAA’s report.

“Distracted driving remains a growing traffic safety problem nationwide,” says Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Any distraction, whether it be texting or talking to a passenger, could be enough to cause a crash. AAA strongly urges drivers to focus on what’s most important, the road in front of them.”

Top 3 Risky Driver Distractions

  • Mobile phone use
  • In-vehicle technology
  • Passengers in the vehicle

Unfortunately, drivers who use their cellphones behind the wheel have chosen to ignore the message that it’s extremely dangerous. In 2019, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a nationwide survey which found:

  • Most drivers (96 percent) believe typing or reading on a hand-held cellphone while driving to be very or extremely dangerous.
  • Unfortunately, some of them do it anyway. Thirty-nine percent admitted to reading and 29% admit to typing on a smartphone at least once while behind the wheel within the past month.

Checking your phone at the stoplight can be risky too. AAA research found that drivers can experience a “hangover effect”, where the mind stays distracted for up to 27 seconds after using smartphones or voice-to-text vehicle infotainment systems to send text messages, make phone calls or update social media. In other words, once that light turns green, your mind may still be focused on your phone and not on the road.

“The bottom line is, if your mind is not focused on driving, you’re unable to properly react to what’s happening on the road in front of you. That puts other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians at risk,” Jenkins said.

AAA offers these tips to avoid distracted driving:

  • Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
  • Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
  • Pull over. If you must call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
  • Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
  • Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
  • Don’t be a distraction.  Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
  • Activate Do Not Disturb. Setting up this feature on iPhone or Android device will prevent calls from coming in while you’re driving.
  • Everyone should avoid distractions while in traffic. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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