As traffic begins to pick up across the country, with increased vaccinations and decreased pandemic restrictions, AAA – The Auto Club Group reminds drivers about the importance of focusing on the road ahead and not on their smartphones during Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
According to 2019 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Distracted driving crashes killed 3,142 people in the United States – an average of 9 deaths per day.
- That number was up 10 percent from the year before (2,839 deaths in 2018).
- In Minnesota alone, there were 29 fatal crashes involving a distracted driver, resulting in 29 fatalities in 2019.
- Click here to view more information from AAA’s report and see the data for Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota.
“Distracted driving remains a growing traffic safety problem nationwide,” says Meredith Mitts, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Any distraction, whether it be texting or talking to a passenger, could be enough to cause a crash. AAA strongly urges drivers to focus on what’s most important, that’s the road in front of them.”
Top 3 Risky Driver Distractions
- Mobile phone use
- In-vehicle technology
- Passengers in the vehicle
Unfortunately, drivers who use their cellphones behind the wheel have chosen to ignore the message that it’s extremely dangerous. In 2019, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a nationwide survey which found:
- Most drivers (96 percent) believe typing or reading on a hand-held cellphone while driving to be very or extremely dangerous.
- Unfortunately, some of them do it anyway. Thirty-nine percent admitted to reading and 29% admit to typing on a smartphone at least once while behind the wheel within the past month.
Checking your phone at the stoplight can be risky too. AAA research found that drivers can experience a “hangover effect” where the mind stays distracted for up to 27 seconds after using smartphones or voice-to-text vehicle infotainment systems to send text messages, make phone calls or update social media. In other words, once that light turns green, your mind may still be focused on your phone and not on the road.
“The bottom line is, if your mind is not focused on driving, you’re unable to properly react to what’s happening on the road in front of you. That puts other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians at risk,” Mitts said.
AAA offers these tips to avoid distracted driving:
- Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
- Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
- Pull over. If you must call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
- Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
- Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
- Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
- Activate Do Not Disturb. Setting up this feature on iPhone or Android device will prevent calls from coming in while you’re driving.
- Everyone should avoid distractions while in traffic. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.