April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) along with a variety of public safety and law enforcement agencies across the nation are raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving this month. The NHTSA’s U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign will be focused on the law enforcement efforts associated with keeping distracted drivers off of the roads.
“Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing safety issues on the roads today. Distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves: they’re a danger to everyone else on the road. The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education.”
It only takes one text or call to ruin lives. The average amount of time it takes you to send or read a text is five seconds. At 55 miles-per-hour, five seconds is the length of a football field. If you’re looking at your phone, that’s like having your eyes closed. A lot can happen in five seconds.
Distracted driving is considered any activity, such as grooming, eating, or the most-widely used texting that diverts a driver from focusing on the road. This can include:
- Using a cell phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting the radio, CD player, or MP3 player
The Facts on Distracted Driving
- In 2015, 3,477 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers.
- An estimated 391,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.
- Nine percent of all drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
- 10 percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes and 14 percent of all police-reported crashes in 2015 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
Do you have policies and procedures in place that at least minimize distracted driving and the use of electronic devices, including cell phones? The restriction on hand-held cell phones by interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers and bus drivers went into effect on January 12, 2012, prohibiting employers from allowing or requiring their drivers to use hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel. Both the driver and employer can be fined for violating this rule: up to $2,750, for the driver and up to $11,000, for the employer.
Put Your Phone Away or Get Ready to Pay
- Don’t follow the pack, be a leader. When you get behind the wheel, be an example to your family and friends by putting your phone away.
- In 46 States, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, texting while driving is an illegal, ticketable offense.
- Speak up. If your friends text while driving, tell them to stop. Listen to your passengers; if they catch you texting while driving, and tell you to put your phone away, put it down.
- No one likes to be called out by a friend for doing something wrong, but it’s even worse to get caught by law enforcement and end up paying a fine.
- Remember, when you get behind the wheel, put your phone away.
Texting while driving is dangerous, and getting caught can be expensive and embarrassing.
Save face, your money, and maybe save a life—your text message can wait. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
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