We’ve all been there. The car ahead stops short unexpectedly. Someone darts out into the road from between parked vehicles. An SUV swerves into your lane. You have only an instant to avoid a serious crash. Can you?
If you’re driving attentively, you’re giving yourself that extra time you might need to avoid a crash and stay safe. If you’re driving distracted — because you’re on the phone, texting, checking your hair, or reaching down for a burger or fries — you’re robbing yourself of the split second that can be the difference between a close call and a serious and possibly 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 is deadly and illegal. From April 12 to 16, 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.
Distracted driving killed 3,450 people in 2016 — an increase of 8 percent since 2014. The number of fatalities may well be higher due to difficulties identifying distraction-related crashes. Young drivers and female drivers seem more prone to using their phones when driving. But make no mistake: it isn’t just young people. Drivers in other age groups don’t lag far behind younger drivers when it comes to driving distracted.
Thankfully, communities across America are combating this growing road safety threat with tougher laws. Forty-seven States and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for drivers of all ages; 15 States and territories prohibit drivers of all ages from using hand-held cell phones while driving; and 38 States plus the District of Columbia ban cell phone use by teen or novice drivers.
Distracted Driving Awareness Month should be a time for all of us to take responsibility for the choices we make when we’re on the road and to take action in our communities to stop distracted driving.
- You’ve got one job: driving. That means setting aside all else: no calls, no texts, no food, no fiddling with the radio or navigation system, or anything that distracts from driving.
- Electronic devices are addictive. Be honest with yourself; if you can’t resist the ‘ding’ of a text alert, shut off your phone. Put it away until your drive is done.
- 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.
Distracted driving is dangerous, it’s deadly, and it has to stop. It starts with each of us. Pledge to stop. Follow our tips. Talk to your friends and family. Let them know that, one way or another, U Drive. U Text. U Pay.