The month of April has been designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Did you know that distracted driving is now considered an epidemic in the United States? The CDC estimates that at least 8 people are killed every day in crashes that involve a distracted driver, and those most at risk are teenagers and young adults.
So how can we all become part of the solution? The first step is to discuss with your family what distracted driving is and what the consequences can be.
While traffic numbers dropped significantly in the past year due to COVID-19, The National Safety Council reports an 8% increase in deaths due to automobile crashes in 2020 over 2019.
The most common distracted driving behaviors are talking on the cell phone or texting. But there are plenty of other behaviors that could be putting you, your family, and your co-workers or clients at risk. These include:
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Applying makeup
- Checking your emails
- Reviewing your social media accounts
- Programming a navigation system such as WAZE
- Adjusting your radio or DVD
Here are 10 tips from Travelers Insurance to help avoid distracted driving:
Stow your phone. Turning off the phone and putting it in “do not disturb” mode can help remove the temptation to browse online at a red light or respond right away to a text message.
Vow not to multi-task. Anything that occupies your mind or vision can be a distraction behind the wheel. Make time at home to eat meals or put on makeup, so you can focus on the road.
Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting family members and friends when you know they are driving to avoid distracting them.
Talk to your employer. Responding to texts or taking calls for work while driving can be dangerous. Encourage your employer to have a distracted driving policy that includes waiting to talk with employees until they are safely parked.
Keep kids and pets safe. Make sure kids are in proper car seats and that pets stay secured in their zone in the back of your vehicle. It can also help reduce distractions if pets are not roaming about the car.
Set a good example. Parents can model good behavior for their children by demonstrating attentive driving. Avoid texting, eating, grooming, or calling someone while behind the wheel.
Plan your route before you go. Programming your navigation system while you drive can take your eyes off the road. It’s better to ask a passenger to do it or to enter your destination before you leave home.
Speak up. If you see someone texting or otherwise driving while distracted, say something and let them know that you are not comfortable with that behavior. Encourage your children to do the same when they are passengers in a friend’s car. It could save a life.
Set rules of the road. Consider restricting the number of passengers until your teen or new driver gains experience behind the wheel.
Avoiding reaching. Resist the urge to reach for items if they fall while driving.
A final thought: At 55 miles per hour, sending or reading a text is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Your life is worth more than any call, text, or playlist.
For more from the NHTSA on distracted driving, click here.
To learn how a telematics-based program can help monitor your teen driver, click here.