The next time you’re riding as a passenger in a vehicle, take a moment to observe the drivers around you. Chances are, you’ll see one or more of them eating, fixing their hair or replying to an email when their undivided attention should be on the road.
Distracted driving is a growing epidemic in the United States. According to the government website Distraction.gov, 3,179 lives were lost and 431,000 people injured as a result of distracted-driver-related collisions in 2014 alone.
Although texting is the most common distraction, other activities that take a driver’s eyes and mind off the road include talking with other passengers, checking social media or using a GPS while in motion. Because April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the hazards of distracted driving and make a pledge to practice safer driving habits.
Put Your Phone Away While Driving
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, nearly 660,000 people in the United States are texting, talking on the phone or using a handheld electronic device while driving. Despite the efforts of awareness campaigns such as #ItCanWait, this number hasn’t gone down in six years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Center for Statistics and Analysis.
Texting while driving causes nearly 1.6 million collisions each year in the United States, NHTSA discovered. Causing you to take your hands, eyes and mind off the wheel, texting is the most dangerous of driving distractions. Although banned in 46 states, many drivers still haven’t broken this habit.
Safe Driving: There’s An App For That
The mobile market understands that phone use behind the wheel is dangerous and has responded to the problem. Examples of smartphone apps that encourage safe driving include ZoomSafer and AT&T DriveMode. Able to detect when the vehicle is in motion, these apps regulate cell use by disabling all inbound and outbound texts and emails when the car is traveling above certain speeds.
These apps will automatically reply to anyone who contacts you, alerting them that you’re driving and unavailable to answer. Both apps, including ZoomSafer’s sister app, TeenSafer, are equipped with parental control settings. This feature holds young drivers accountable for their habits, sending an alert to a designated adult’s phone if the app is disabled.
Pledge to Be An Attentive Driver
Focused driving saves lives. Start practicing safe driving habits today — your loved ones and other drivers on the road will thank you. This month, the National Safety Council is encouraging all drivers to pledge to drive distraction-free. However, choosing to be a safe driver isn’t limited to National Distracted Driving Awareness Month — make focused driving a year-round, lifelong habit.