The beginning of April kicks off “Distracted Driving Awareness Month” nationwide, and AAA East Central is utilizing its multi-year initiative “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated” to educate the public and increase the stigma surrounding distracted driving.
Unfortunately, in recent years, crashes and injuries related to distracted driving have increased, contrasting a decades-long decrease in the amount of DUI related incidents. In 2017 alone, distracted driving claimed more than 3,000 lives on our nation’s roadway, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“A citation for texting behind the wheel costs motorists one hundred fifty dollars in Ohio, but the true costs can be much more devastating,” says Kevin Andrews, director, AAA Auto Club Driving School. “In our classes for young drivers, we have elevated curbing distracted driving to the top of our priority list by teaching students that it can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.”
Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that motorists talking on a cellphone are up to four times as likely to crash as others on the road, while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash. Despite the risk, drivers increasingly report using technology behind the wheel. Nearly half (49 percent) of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email. This behavior is in contradiction to the fact that nearly 58 percent of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger.
Moreover, an additional danger to motorists is the common misconception that distraction ends after they’ve stopped using a phone. Additional AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after drivers use voice-based technology to dial, change music or send a text message. At 25 mph, motorists can travel the length of nearly three football fields during this time frame.
AAA East Central is committed to helping motorists curb the urge to engage in distracting behaviors behind the wheel, particularly cell phone usage. Any task that requires taking someone’s eyes be taken off of the road or hands be taken off of the wheel can present a dangerous risk. That includes changing the radio, programming navigation or even enjoying a sandwich. In order to avoid distraction, AAA recommends:
Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated. The consequences could be equally as devastating.
Know where you’re going: Pre-program a GPS and adjust seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before putting the car in motion.
Secure items: Properly secure children and pets and store loose possessions and other items that could roll around in the car.
Be a good passenger. Offer to assist the driver navigate, text, or make a call.
Parents can find more resources to help keep their children safe, and more information on the Auto Club Driving School, at [aaa.com/drivereducation]AAA.com/DriverEducation.
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit [www.AAAFoundation.org]www.AAAFoundation.org.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 80 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. Past news releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.