Home > Ask Gary > Is the campaign to not text and drive the same as the distracted driver campaign?

Is the campaign to not text and drive the same as the distracted driver campaign?

DistractedDriverApril is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and this topic is so important because it results in thousands of fatalities and accidents a year. It certainly includes texting, but goes well beyond that. There are drivers who read directions, women who put on make-up and men who shave while driving. Eating and drinking while driving, talking on a cell phone,  turning to talk to a passenger next to you or children in the back seat—these are all distractions that take one’s eyes off the road.  This is what we are trying to prevent, distracted driving in any form, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion is so committed to promoting the cause, that we offer a pledge on our Facebook page. You can log in and invite someone you care about to take the pledge. The government also has a website at www.distraction.gov where you can go to Take the Pledge as well. This short pledge focuses on phone calls and texting:

It reads: “Distracted driving kills and injures thousands of people each year. I pledge to:

• Protect lives by never texting or talking on the phone while driving.

• Be a good passenger and speak out if the driver in my car is distracted.

• Encourage my friends and family to drive phone-free.” Distracted driver girl

Last night’s local news included a piece on National Distracted Driver Awareness Month with an announcement that both Massachusetts and New Hampshire are filing legislation supporting talking on a hand-held cell phone against the law. Though they recognize that the law in most states, making it illegal to text while driving, is hard to enforce and ineffective. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is planning to support the legislation.

The National Safety Council (NCS) is also running a campaign called “Distracted Driving: One Call Can Change Everything.” This campaign focuses on the main cause of people driving distracted:  using cell phones while driving. An estimated one in four crashes happens because someone was talking on a cell phone, according to the National Safety Council. The National Safety Council is also focused on educating people that hands-free driving is still driving distracted. Studies have shown that your brain is still distracted by, and focusing on, the conversation rather than the road. While better than holding the cell phone in your hand, the NCS is working hard to educate drivers that hands-free does not eliminate distracted driving.

The Distracted Driver Stats:

• NSC estimates 28 percent of all crashes – or 1.6 million crashes – each year are caused by drivers using their handheld or hands-free cell phones and texting while driving. This is much greater than the number of crashes caused by any other distraction.

• The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver; this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011. (More recent stats are still being tabulated based on determined cause.)

• Ten percent of drivers of all ages under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.

• Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes, so please speak with your young adult children about this important issue.

The NSC is so concerned about distracted drivers using cell phones; they commissioned Nationwide Insurance to research and write a paper on the under-reporting of cell phone use in accidents. National data shows that at least 350 fatal crashes a year are caused by drivers on cell phones, but most safety experts know the problem is much bigger. About 50% of all fatal crashes involve cell phone use and thousands admit cell phone use during a crash that was not fatal. The biggest problem is that in fatalities, the witnesses often don’t report cell phone use and in crashes where the drivers live, they are not going to admit to cell use.

Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion joins both the NSC and NHTSA to encourage drivers to commit to not using their cell phones while driving during the month of April and beyond until it becomes a habit. These organizations encourage drivers to silence, turn off or put their phones away in trunks or glove compartments, reducing the temptation to answer a ringing phone, text message or e-mail. Drivers also are asked to change their voicemail greeting to alert callers they may be driving.

Please drive safely and put down the cell phone while driving. One call really can change everything.

Ask Gary Jaffarian

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