Distracted Driver Awareness Month highlights a growing epidemic

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), thousands of people die every year from distracted driving accidents. Fatal car crashes increased by six percent in 2016 compared to 2015 and 14 percent since 2014.

Although there is no way to accurately measure, researchers believe driver distraction, particularly smartphone use, is a major factor in fatal accidents. To shed light on this epidemic, the NSC has named April as Distracted Driver Awareness Month. They encourage drivers to put safety first and "Just Drive."

Smartphones provide us with instant access to information, entertainment and communication. Making phone calls, texting and using social media while driving are all proven to decrease the essential elements of safe driving: Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and mind alert. And hands-free technology does not decrease risk. It was developed for user convenience in mind - not safety.

The NSC calls upon national, state and local government to increase efforts to curb distracted driving, particularly regarding legislation to ban cellphone use. You can help by supporting upcoming legislation, advocating for stronger laws by writing to your representatives and increasing awareness in your community.

You also can pledge to be an attentive driver to improve you and your family's safety and set a good example for others. This includes committing to not doing any of the following while driving:

  • Make phone calls, even via hands-free or Bluetooth technology
  • Send text messages or use voice-to-text features on your phone or vehicle
  • Use any social media apps, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram
  • Take selfies or video
  • Check or send email  or chat messages
  • Put destinations into GPS navigation

Also, do not call or message someone else when you know they are driving. 

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