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National Distracted Driving Awareness Month – It’s not just talking and texting on your phone

From AAA

People know driving intoxicated is bad, yet many still choose to drive “intexticated”. Texting-while-driving is among the many distractions that endanger motorists on the road every day.

“A distracted driver is similar to an intoxicated one,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “When a driver’s attention is diverted from the road, their reaction-time slows and lives are jeopardized.”

Top 3 Risky Distractions

  • Cellphone use
  • In-vehicle technology
  • Passengers in the vehicle

Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, or picking your next podcast can result in a fatal injury. Over 22 percent of distraction-affected crashes involved confirmed use of a smartphone. This underscores that while smartphone use is most frequently blamed for driver distraction, there are many other causes of distraction-affected crashes. Jenkins Crash Pic 2.jpg

“I personally experienced the dangers of distracted driving, earlier this year,” Jenkins continued. “While stopped in traffic, I was struck from behind by a driver who was looking at his GPS. He was driving 55 mph when he smashed into me. The impact ‘totaled’ my SUV and permanently injured my neck and back. I survived my encounter, but not everyone is so lucky.”

According to 2018 data from The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • 2,839 people were killed and 400,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
  • In Florida, there were 213 documented distracted driving crashes, resulting in 231 deaths.

“All it takes is one distraction and your life can change in seconds,” Jenkins continued. “No life is worth losing to distraction. Focused drivers save lives. AAA urges all drivers to pay attention and focus on the road during this National Distracted Driving Awareness month and all year long.”

Sobering statistics

  • Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
  • Five seconds of reading an email or text is like driving across a football field while blindfolded.
  • Mental distractions last longer than you think and can cause a dangerous crash or fatality. Mental distraction can last up to 27 seconds after dialing, texting or changing the radio station.
  • New teen drivers are 3x as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. Florida has a graduated driver licensing system to help 15-year-olds gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions.

Despite what some drivers may think, hands-free is not risk-free. Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind focuses on the drive.

AAA’s Top Tips to Avoid Distractions While Driving

  • Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And please, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
  • Disable or stow electronics. Never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.
  • Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.
  • Take the pledge to drive distraction free or learn more about distracted driving at aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted.

Florida Law

  • Prohibits hand-held cell phone use for all drivers in school and/or work zones only (5 states).
  • Prohibits all drivers from text messaging while driving (48 states).

AAA supports strengthening the distracted driving law by banning all cellphone use for drivers under the age of 18.

“Distraction is the number one cause of teen driver crashes, and cellphone-use is a primary reason for it,” Jenkins said.  “Tougher laws on mobile phones could help eliminate a major distraction for teens, who are still developing their skills as a new driver.”

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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