We're closing out DDAM with a guest blog from our friends at This App Saves Lives (TASL) on the history of this important observance.
Written by Gillan Totaro for Bankrate
The NHTSA describes distracted driving as any activity that diverts attention from driving, including:
● Talking or texting on your phone
● Eating and drinking
● Talking to people in your vehicle
● Changing the music or radio station
Using your navigation system
Texting and driving is the most dangerous distraction, because texting takes a driver’s attention away from the road for an average of five consecutive seconds. With an average speed of 55 miles per hour, a driver could travel the length of an entire football field during those few seconds without looking.
Although texting and driving is a specific example of distracted driving, anything that takes your attention away from the road is dangerous.
"Phone-based distracted driving is an increasingly pervasive danger that's rearing its ugly head in the form of senseless accidents, injuries, and deaths. But as the founder of a mission-driven company that rewards drivers who abstain from phone-based distracted driving, I've been heartened by the degree to which more and more drivers are choosing to keep their phones down and eyes up. And despite statistics which show that, during the COVID lockdowns we've al become even more addicted to the technology than ever, we're starting to see increased recognition across the spectrum of the real dangers of distracted driving." — Ryan Frankel, CEO and Found of This App Saves Lives
Distractions cause drivers to take their attention away from driving and lead to higher rates of crashes. Distractions are not only dangerous to the driver, but to anyone else on the road as well. Distracted driving statistics display evidence of this major problem:
● Distracted driving is involved in one of every ten fatal crashes in the U.S. (NHTSA)
● Distracted driving causes about 280,000 injuries per year. (NHTSA)
● About 1 in 5 of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018 were not in vehicles ― they were walking, riding their bikes or otherwise outside a vehicle. (CDC)
● A 2008 AAA Foundation report reviewed dozens of studies and concluded that any cell phone use roughly quadruples crash risk. (AAA Foundation)
● Distracted driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. (National Safety Council)
● Drivers who text spend about 10% of their driving time outside their own driving lane. (Drivesafeonline.org)
Like many public safety campaigns, the origins of Distracted Driving Awareness month can be traced back to an avoidable tragedy. In this case, the tragic death of a young girl was caused by her own mother due to distracted driving.
Shelley Forney was driving in her neighborhood texting on her phone when she hit her nine-year-old daughter on her bike and killed her. After this, Shelley made it her mission to spread awareness for the cause and founded a distracted driving advocacy group named Focus Driven. She spoke to large groups of people and made appearances on Oprah and other talk shows.
Through these appearances, she caught the attention of U.S. Representative Betsy Markey, who invited her to speak at a safety conference in D.C. After hearing her speak, Markey submitted a Congressional resolution to designate April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the resolution passed in 2010.
In addition to Distracted Driving Awareness month, many campaigns have been run in the past 12 years to bring attention to the cause. Here are some of the top slogans that have been created to bring attention to the cause:
1. Hang Up And Drive.
2. Your Life Is More Important Than Sending That Text.
3. That Phone Call Can Wait.
4. That Text Message Can Wait.
5. Don’t Get Distracted. Just Keep On Driving.
6. Leave The Text Unread Or You’ll End Up Dead.
7. The Text Message Is Not Worth Your Life.
8. A Second Off The Road Can Kill You.
There are multiple types of distracted driving and we have broken them down to give you a better understanding of what to look out for.
● Visual: Anything that takes your visual field away from the direction you are driving.
Examples: GPS, phone, billboards, street signs, cars, people on the street, maps, passengers, or the radio
● Manual: When you take your hands off the wheel.
Examples: eating, drinking, putting on makeup, and looking through the glove box or console
● Cognitive: When your attention or concentration is hindered by some sort of mental distraction.
Examples: daydreaming, thinking about work, thinking about dinner, etc.
There are several steps you can take to help prevent distracted driving and keep everyone safer on the roads.
● Avoid texting and driving: Turn off notifications on your phone while driving and use your cell phone for emergencies only.
● Download apps that offer incentives for hands-free driving:
◦ This App Saves Lives (TASL) gives you points for the time spent off of your phone while driving that you can redeem for rewards at popular stores. Download This App Saves Lives today on the App Store and during registration, use the code BANKRATE within the Referral ID field to instantly earn 500 Bonus TASL Points.
◦ OnMyWay will pay you to put your phone down while at the wheel. The app automatically activates when your car goes over 10 mph and disables text and app alerts.
◦ DriveSense logs your driving. It draws maps of your driving patterns and behaviors, and gives you trip tips and helps you save on insurance.
◦ DriveEasy is for drivers who have insurance through Geico and helps you get a better rate and save money.
● Don’t drive while you are tired: Drowsy driving mimics alcohol-impaired driving — 18 hours without sleep is similar to a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05%.
● Avoid multi-tasking while driving: Multi-tasking is a major culprit of manual distracted driving because it can force you to take your hands off of the steering wheel and make it nearly impossible to pay attention to the road.
● Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle: Passengers add a whole other element of distraction while driving because they could be talking, changing the radio or playing on their phones.
Stay safe during Distracted Driving Awareness month (and for the rest of the year, too).