Put down the phone and pay attention; April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to a phone company survey, almost 100% of teens agree that texting and driving is dangerous, but half admitted to doing it anyway. It may take only a matter of seconds to glance at your phone, but, if you are driving at 60 miles an hour, your eyes were blind to the road while you drove the length of a football field. Please don’t text and drive.
History of Distracted Driving Awareness
To understand the history behind Distracted Driving Awareness Month, one can’t ignore the story of Shelley Forney. On November 25, 2008, Shelley’s life was completely changed when a driver made the mistake of looking at their cell phone whilst in control of an SUV. Shelley’s nine-year-old daughter Erica was riding her bike home, just 15 pedals away when she was struck by the SUV head-on. Erica passed away two days later on Thanksgiving Day.
At the time, distracted driving was hardly covered in any media, let alone described as a pandemic. And while the average person suffering the unthinkable might curl into a ball of pain, Shelley decided to do the opposite. She knew that the story of Erica was avoidable, and if she could tell her story to enough people, it would save another person from having to live through the grief her family had to. Shelley went on to become an independent contract safety speaker and founded a distracted driving advocacy group named Focus Driven. She would continue to speak to audiences for the next ten years, appearing on Oprah, Larry King Live, and many other shows and events. Erica’s story caught the attention of Representative Betsy Markey, and in early 2010, she was invited to Washington DC to speak at a safety conference.
Stories like Shelley’s are far too common and entirely avoidable in today’s society. In 2018 4,637 people died in car crashes due to cell phone and electronic device use. This month is our effort to shrink that number significantly, you could be saving a life. So please join us this month and make an extra effort to avoid using our phones while on the road and make our roads a safer place to be.
How to Observe Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Drive responsibly – Duh. We don’t care if your friend has to wait until you get home to find out whether or not you’re going to Josh’s party. We would much rather you stay alive to go said party.
Listen to music, podcasts, or audio books – What a great alternative to handicapping yourself with texting! Jamming out to your tunes or listening to an epic fight scene is much more entertaining than discussing what you want for dinner anyway.
Take a road trip with friends – Not only is this a fun way to bond, but your friends are actually there. Plus, it’s rude to text while visiting with people.
5 Facts You Should Know Before Texting and Driving
You’re at a huge risk – Text messaging increases the risk of crash or near-crash by 23 times.
Teens are at a huge risk – The fatal crash rate for teens is 3 times greater than for drivers age 20 and over
Teens are not better at texting – Driver distraction is responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes.
Most people are hazards – Over 80% of drivers admit to blatantly hazardous behavior while driving, such as changing clothes, steering with a foot, painting nails, or even shaving.
5 seconds is a long time – Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph
Why Distracted Driving Awareness Month is Important
Texting and swerving – People who text and drive statistically spend 10% of their time on the road outside their lane. Yikes.
It’s illegal – 43 of America’s 50 states have laws prohibiting texting and driving. South Dakota, New Mexico, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri have laws regulating it. Arizona just extended their reckless driving laws to cover texting.
Texting is worse than drunk driving – Texters are six times more likely to wreck their car than drivers over the legal drinking limit. How horrifying is that? Answer: Very.
Source: National Today