April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Hamilton, NJ – Drunk driving has been a leading cause of fatalities on the road, but another deadly behavior behind the wheel that is sadly gaining in statistics: distracted driving.  Distracted driving is considered any activity, such as grooming, eating, or the most-widely used texting that diverts a driver from focusing on the road. While April is recognized as National Distracted Driving month, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges drivers to put the cellphones down in the car not only in April, but all year. 

According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America's roadways. NHTSA has initiated an enforcement campaign called U Drive, U Text, U Pay during the week of April 10 – 15, 2015 in an effort to get drivers to put the cellphones down while driving.

In 2013, it was reported that more than 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and estimated additional 424,000 were injured in accidents that involved distracted drivers.   And 10 percent of drivers under the age of 20 who were 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 according to distracted.gov.

Recently, the AAA Foundation released a comprehensive study that involved video cameras recording teens while they were driving.  The results showed that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied, including 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes.

“Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”

“And while teens are the typical suspects on the topic of distracted driving, they are not the only ones partaking in this cultural pervasiveness of texting and driving, adults are also guilty of doing it too,” Noble added.

The AAA Clubs of New Jersey most recent poll of New Jersey motorists in 2014, found that New Jersey’s drivers recognize the dangers of distracted driving but have not yet changed their own driving habits.“People continue to have a ‘do as I say not as I do attitude’ when it comes to distracted driving, but the simple fact is distracted driving is dangerous driving,” said Noble.  The survey found that 31 percent of drivers believe they are not distracted while talking on their cell phone and driving, but 82 percent believe that others are distracted while doing the same thing.  An overwhelming majority believes that texting while driving is distracting; with only 3 percent reporting they are not distracted when texting while driving, and 95 percent of motorists believing that others are distracted.

AAA advocates that drivers put the cellphones down while driving.  The company works at advancing distracted driving laws in the AAA Mid-Atlantic territory. 

Handheld Cell Phone and Texting While Driving Laws – AAA Mid-Atlantic Territory

As of 4/1/15

State Handheld Cell Phone While Driving Text Messaging While Driving
NJ
  • Primary offense
  • Novice drivers
  • Primary offense
  • Primary offense
MD
  • Primary offense
  • Novice drivers
  • Primary offense
  • Secondary offense
DE
  • Primary offense
  • Primary offense
D.C.
  • Primary offense
  • Primary offense
PA
  • No ban
  • Primary offense
VA
  • No ban
·         Primary offense

National Distracted Driving Awareness Month was introduced as a resolution in 2010 by former Colorado Representative Betsy Markey and passed by the U.S. House of Representative on March 23, 2010.