Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on our roads. While drivers texting behind the wheel tops what seems like an endless list of distractions, other risky actions include adjusting the radio, applying makeup, drinking coffee, and talking on your cell phone. By driving distracted, you’re robbing yourself of seconds that you may need to avoid a close call or deadly crash.
This April, as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, NHTSA is again teaming up with State and local law enforcement to save lives and make our roads safer by combating distracted driving through our U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign. We’re working together, along with road safety organizations and advocates, to remind Americans that distracted driving can result in costly consequences. From April 11 to 15, law enforcement will also be making a special effort to identify and ticket anyone who insists on risking their safety and that of others by driving distracted.
One silver lining: The number of deaths due to distracted driving has decreased slightly in the past few years. In 2017, distracted driving killed 3,166 people—a decrease of 8.2 percent from 2016. Still, young drivers and women seem more prone to using their phones while driving, according to the latest numbers from 2017:
- Of the 2,994 distracted drivers involved in a fatal crash, 271 (9%) involved a teen (15- to 19-year-old) driver.
- Handheld device use for women was 3.6 percent, compared to 2.4 percent for men.
- Female drivers with a cell phone have been more likely to be involved in a deadly distracted driving crash every year since 2012.
But make no mistake: It isn’t just young people and women who are driving distracted, since drivers in other age groups don’t lag far behind.
Thankfully, communities across America are combating this growing road safety threat with tough laws. Forty-seven States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers; 16 States and territories prohibit drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving; and 38 States plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands ban cell phone use by teen or novice drivers.
Let’s take National Distracted Driving Awareness Month as a time to regroup and take responsibility for the choices we make when we’re on the road. Follow these safety tips for a safe ride every time:
- Need to send a text? Pull over and park your car in a safe location. Only then is it safe to send or read a text.
- Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
- Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving. Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
Remind your friends and family: If you’re in the driver’s seat, it’s the only thing you should be doing. No phone calls, no texts, no eating food, or doing anything that distracts you from driving.
- If your driver is texting or otherwise distracted, tell them to stop and focus on the road.
- Ask your friends to join you in pledging not to drive distracted. You could save a life.
- Share your pledge on social media to spread the word—#JustDrive.
This April, and throughout the year, let’s work together to spread this lifesaving message: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.