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Wednesday, 11 April 2018 13:38

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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Distracted Driving Is Getting Worse - Learn What You Can Do To Make The Roads Safer

Today it is easier than ever to become distracted behind the wheel. New technology allows us to make phone calls, dictate texts or emails, and update social media while driving - all actions that are proven to increase crash risk. As a result, thousands are killed every year due to distracted driving.

According to 2016 statistics, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates as many as 40,000 people died on U.S. roadways, a 6% increase over 2015 statistics and 14% over 2014 -- the most dramatic two-year increase in 53 years.

This month, several organizations, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council (NSC), are promoting safety campaigns that encourage drivers to focus on the task of safe, undistracted driving.

 

What Is Distracted Driving?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

 

3 Types Of Driving Distractions

There are three main types of distractions while driving:

  1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  3. Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving

Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. Furthermore, sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.

The Consequences of Distracted Driving

The leading causes of distracted driving are teens and young drivers as well as risky device use and behavior by all drivers. The National Safety Council reports that the highest incidence of distracted driving occurs in the under-20 age group.

Although hands-free devices often are seen as a solution to the risks of driver distraction, they are not. Hands-free devices do help eliminate two obvious risks – visual, looking away from the road, and manual, removing your hands off of the steering wheel. However, there is a third type of distraction that can occur when using cell phones while driving – cognitive, or taking your mind off the road. 

Additionally, using a mobile device while driving is considered to be as bad as alcohol-impaired driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that "using a mobile phone while driving [should] be defined in legal terms as an activity on par with the effects of tiredness or alcohol." In other words, alcohol, sleep deprivation, and cell phones all have an equally negative impact on a person’s ability to drive safely. 

Massachusetts Distracted Driving Laws

Massachusetts distracted driving primary laws went into effect in September 2010 and requires all drivers to keep their hands off their cell phones for both talking and texting. Operators cannot use any "mobile telephone or handheld device capable of accessing the Internet to write, send, or read an electronic message including text messages, emails, and instant messages or to access the Internet while operating a vehicle. Law applies even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic." Novice drivers (under the age of 18) are banned from all hand-held and hands-free use. Primary enforcement laws mean that an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.

Distracted driving laws vary by state.Download the 2018 PDF chart of state distracted driving laws to familiarize yourself with state laws regarding cell phone use before you travel.

National Distracted Driving Effort

Traffic Safety Marketing, an initiative of the United States Department of Transportation, is running a campaign this month to help deter distracted driving incidents. 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.

Get The Facts, Get Involved

Traffic Safety Marketing, an initiative of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), is also running a campaign this month to help deter distracted driving incidents. The following video is titled "Famous Last Words" might get you thinking more about distracgted driving (and you might need a tissue).

Safe Driving Practices

  1. Do not drive if you have consumed alcohol or drugs within the past 12 hours, or if you are tired
  2. Check and adjust all mirrors prior to taking your vehicle out of park
  3. Turn down, and preferably turn off the car stereo; set your radio station before you depart to avoid having to take attention from driving to adjust the station
  4. Ask any passengers to limit conversation that can distract the driver
  5. Turn off your cell phone to prevent it from distracting you with a call or a message
  6. If you must use a cell phone during your travel, be sure to use a hands-free device (where they are still permitted by law*) that allows you to initiate, make, and terminate calls without removing your hands from the steering wheel
  7. Do not eat while driving; pull off the road in a safe location such as a rest area or restaurant to enjoy your meal
  8. Do not drive long distances without taking frequent breaks; if you become tired, stop to rest or take turns with another driver
  9. Set your GPS for directions before your drive
  10. Take a free distracted driving course online

Take The NSA Distracted Driving Online Course - It's Free

The National Safety Council (NSC) is offering a free 45-minute Distracted Driving Online Course from April 15-21, 2018. Once you sign up for the course, you have 14 days to complete the course. Visit safetyserve.com/ddam. If you are new to the course, click on the New Student Registration button and enter access code "distracted" to set up your account. Once set up your login, you may return to the course at any time during the 14 days by clicking on the Returning Student Login button.

Do Your Part To Keep Our Roads Safe

Multitasking is a great skill to have, but not when you are driving. Ensure that you do not get distracted behind the wheel with these safe driving tips

We all know that distracted driving is dangerous. Get the facts, get involved, and help keep America’s roadways safe.

#BWP 


Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Safety Council

Read 1328 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 April 2019 12:10

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