Doing other things besides focusing on driving has become a deadly epidemic on our roads. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and it is a time when we take a moment to reflect on the dangers of distracted driving and make a conscious effort to eliminate doing this while behind the wheel.
While drivers texting behind the wheel top what seems like an endless list of distractions, other risky actions include talking — whether on the phone or to others in the car, setting your navigation, adjusting what you’re listening to, drinking coffee, applying makeup, and more. By not concentrating on the road, you’re robbing yourself of precious seconds that you may need to avoid a close call or deadly crash.
Here are some startling facts:
- Distracted driving contributed to over 51,000 crashes in Florida in 2020. These crashes resulted in 262 fatalities and over 38,000 injuries.
- In 2019, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 9.4 percent of all fatal crashes and 7.7 percent of all crashes resulting in injury.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2019, distracted driving was a factor in 9 percent of all fatal crashes nationwide.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road. This includes the activities listed above as well as the following:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to passengers or pets
- Reading (including maps)
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting the radio or other controls
- Daydreaming or being lost in thought
- Retrieving dropped items
Why is distracted driving dangerous?
Distracted driving is dangerous because it takes a driver’s attention away from the road, even if it’s just for a few seconds. Those few seconds can mean the difference between avoiding an accident and being involved in one.
How can we prevent distracted driving?
Preventing distracted driving starts with recognizing the dangers of not concentrating on driving and removing the activities that might tempt you to multi-task behind the wheel. Here are some tips to help you stay focused on the road:
- Put your phone away. Pull over to a safe location if you need to use your phone.
- Eat before you get in the car, or wait until you arrive at your destination.
- Avoid engaging in distracting conversations with passengers.
- Get enough sleep before you get behind the wheel.
- Adjust your radio or other controls before you start driving.
- If you need to use a navigation system, program it before driving.
It has been part of our mission to help draw attention to the dangers of distracted driving.
Our magnet, “NO Texting While Driving,” is free to Florida residents who want to help spread the word about this activity that distracts drivers of all ages. While we know these magnets cannot prevent drivers from doing this, they may provide a subtle reminder to drivers when they are getting in their cars or others around them in traffic to think before they text.
We want to remind everyone that distracted driving can have serious legal consequences. For example, you could face legal and financial repercussions if you’re involved in an accident because of not concentrating behind the wheel.
Let’s all do our part to eliminate distractions and keep our roads safe. Remember, it’s not just about protecting yourself; it’s about protecting everyone on the road.