No life is worth losing to driver distraction. In New Jersey, 98 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2018, according to the latest data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Nationwide, nearly 3,000 people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, contributing to the 36,560 lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways in 2018. There is no text message or Snapchat worth reading or sending when injuring or killing someone is the potential cost.
Distractions include more than texting. Anything that diverts attention from driving — eating and drinking, adjusting navigation, talking to other passengers, or talking or texting on the phone — can result in tragedy.
Despite what some drivers may think, hands-free is not risk-free. Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind focuses on the drive. Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
Avoid distractions while driving by setting vehicle systems like GPS, seats and sound systems before hitting the road, as well as finishing dressing and personal grooming at home before you leave.
The consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same, so AAA urges drivers: “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.
Drivers should always stay focused and avoid anything that diverts attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. Enlist passengers’ help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program navigation.
Plain and simple – focused drivers save lives. AAA urges all drivers to pay attention and focus on the road during this National Distracted Driving Awareness month and all year long. For more information, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.
Tracy E. Noble
Manager, Public and Government Affairs – New Jersey