April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
New NSC estimates show that roads today are the most dangerous they’ve been in years. On a typical day, eight people are killed and hundreds more are injured in distraction-affected crashes. Because April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, let’s go over what distracted driving is and how to prevent it.
What Is Distracted Driving?
According to the National Highway Transportation and 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.
Using a cell phone while driving creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. In 2020, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. 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.
- 3,142 people were killed by distracted driving in 2019. (NHTSA)
- 8.7% of all car crash fatalities were due to distracted driving in 2019.
- 25% of distracted drivers in fatal crashes are between the ages of 20 and 29. (CDC)
- 48 states and the District of Columbia have cell phone bans to combat distracted driving.
- Distracted driving causes about 3,000 deaths per year: 3,142 deaths in 2019, 2,628 deaths in 2018 and 3,003 deaths in 2017, according to the NHTSA.
- Distracted driving causes about 280,000 injuries per year: 276,000 injuries in 2018, 285,000 injuries in 2017 and 295,000 injuries in 2016.
- Distracted driving causes about 920,000 total accidents per year (including fatalities and injuries): 938,000 accidents in 2018, 912,000 accidents in 2017, and 905,000 accidents in 2016.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
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. Here’s how everyone can get involved:
Teens can be the best messengers with their peers, so we encourage them to speak up when they see a friend driving while distracted, to have their friends sign a pledge to never drive distracted, to become involved in their local Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter, and to share messages on social media that remind their friends, family, and neighbors not to make the deadly choice to drive distracted.
Parents first have to lead by example — by never driving distracted — as well as have a talk with their young driver about distraction and all of the responsibilities that come with driving. Have everyone in the family sign the pledge to commit to distraction-free driving. Remind your teen driver that in states with graduated driver licensing (GDL), a violation of distracted-driving laws could mean a delayed or suspended license.
Educators and Employers
Educators and employers can play a part, too. Spread the word at your school or workplace about the dangers of distracted driving. Ask your students to commit to distraction-free driving or set a company policy on distracted driving.
Make Your Voice Heard
If you feel strongly about distracted driving, be a voice in your community by supporting local laws, speaking out at community meetings, and highlighting the dangers of distracted driving on social media and in your local op-ed pages.