April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and across the country, the Department of Transportation has one message for drivers: “One Text or Call could Wreck it All.”

There are many distractions drivers can face behind the wheel. Visual distractions occur when you take your eyes off the road, manual distractions take a driver’s hands off the wheel and onto something else, such as food or drink, and cognitive distractions occur when the driver stops thinking about driving and starts thinking about something else. While there are many ways to get distracted, cell phone use is by far the most alarming, as it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention.

In 2010 alone, over 3,000 people were killed, and nearly half a million injured, in accidents caused by distracted driving.  Cell phone use was reported in 18% of these fatalities. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, meaning they are driving roughly the length of a football field, blind, at 55 mph. Drivers using a hand-held device are also 4 times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause an injury due to the lack of reaction time.

Now that you know the facts, you’re probably wondering what you can do to get involved and help make our roadways safer. First, you can take the pledge to drive phone-free, encourage your family and friends to drive phone-free, and speak out if the driver of your car is distracted.  You can also share a “Faces of Distracted Driving” video on social media to help raise awareness, download a poster to hang up, and make a company or family pledge to commit to distracted-free driving.

For more distracted driving facts and ways to get involved, visit http://www.distraction.gov.

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