Keeping your hands on the wheel and off your phone can keep you safe. When you text, reach for your phone or dial a phone number while driving, you’re three times as likely to get into a crash, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of car wrecks stem from distracted driving, leading to nine fatalities a day, according to figures on the US Department of Transportation website Distraction.gov. And mobile phones aren’t the only culprit. Distracted driving can just as easily involve eating, drinking, grooming, adjusting the radio, using your navigation system or talking to passengers.
In response to distracted driving deaths, nearly every state has passed some form of law governing mobile phone usage while driving. Depending on where you live, you may be pulled over and ticketed for texting while driving. However, the risk of causing a crash or a fatality is far worse.
As part of National Safety Month, the National Safety Council (NSC) is dedicating the final week of June to distracted driving awareness. Remember these tips to keep you, your passengers and others on the road safe:
- If you’re a passenger in a car with a distracted driver, offer your assistance in navigating, responding to a text or adjusting the radio.
- Do not use your mobile phone while driving. If you must, use a hands-free device, such as an earpiece, dashboard system or speakerphone. Keep in mind that NSC emphasizes that, “hands-free is not risk-free.”
- Set an example for children before they ever get behind the wheel by maintaining a distraction-free environment every time you’re on the road.
- Educate teens and other new drivers on the dangers and consequences, such as inadvertently causing a death and being charged with vehicular manslaughter, of distracted driving.
- Be aware and inform others of the texting and driving laws in your state.
- If you notice a distracted driver on the road, keep your distance. If you can safely do so, alert the authorities to dangerous situations.
By setting a good example with distraction-free driving, you can positively impact those around you – and keep the ones you love safe. To learn other positive driving behaviors that can make the road a safer and friendlier place, read about the Drive It Forward Fridays (#DIFF) movement.