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Distracted Driving Awareness Month Prompts Safety Reminders

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month across the United States, including Massachusetts. Initially, the idea was introduced as a resolution by former Representative Betsey Markey. It was later passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 23, 2010. Now Distracted Driving Awareness Month serves as a reminder for drivers to pay attention to the road when they are behind the wheel – after all, distractions such as texting and emailing can lead to devastating car accidents.

During the month of April, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Safety Council (NSC) and many state law enforcement agencies and safety organizations have a simple message for drivers: One Text or Call could Wreck it All.

Distracted Driving Ruins Lives

According to DOT statistics, every year about 6,000 people are killed and half a million are injured due to crashes caused by distracted driving behaviors such as:

  • Texting while driving
  • Talking on a hand-held cell phone
  • Programming a GPS device
  • Eating behind the wheel
  • Applying makeup
  • Shaving

Many times, drivers believe just an occasional glance away from the road is harmless. However, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Transportation Practice Specialty (TPS) group is adamant that life can change in a split second. According to ASSE TPS, a car moving at 40 miles per hour will travel more than 58 feet per second. By merely glancing away from the road for a 2.9-second glance at a cell phone, the car will have traveled 170 feet unsupervised. At 60 miles per hour, the car will travel a distance of more than 250 feet while the driver looked away. These couple-second glances allow more than enough time and space to hit another car or a pedestrian.

Awareness Month Brings Change

Throughout Distracted Driving Awareness Month, safety and transportation agencies are encouraging drivers to commit to responsible driving practices such as putting phones down or turning them off while in the car, avoiding eating while driving and preprogramming navigation devices. By minimizing distractions, drivers can maximize their attention to driving safely.