Groups Concentrate on Ending Distracted Driving
As part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, several membership organizations are working to promote better understanding of the dangers of unsafe driving practices such as texting and using a hands-free device.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, law enforcement officers, and several associations are cracking down on distracted driving this April, which is designated National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Driving while distracted caused 10 percent of fatal car crashes and nearly 20 percent of injury-related crashes in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which recently announced the first-ever national ad campaign aimed at curbing distracted driving.
The $8.5 million initiative, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay,” draws on the success of past campaigns, such as “Click It or Ticket,” that combined effective law enforcement with strong public education, NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman said in a statement. The campaign is also receiving support from the Governors Highway Safety Association, which recently highlighted the work several states are doing to enforce laws against distracted driving.
“States recognize that distracted driving is a serious challenge on our roadways,” Jonathan Adkins, GHSA executive director, said in a statement. “Now that nearly every state bans texting while driving, the focus is on enforcing those laws and reminding the public of the need to focus solely on driving while behind the wheel.”
The National Safety Council is working to end distracted driving through a nationwide video contest. Announced this past winter, the contest sought original video submissions that illustrated the dangers of using hands-free devices while driving.
“More than 30 scientific studies indicate hands-free device use does not offer drivers any safety benefit,” John Ulczycki, vice president of strategic initiatives at NSC, said in a statement. “The brains of drivers using handheld or hands-free devices are distracted by the conversation itself, which means they are not able to focus solely on the task of driving.”
Winning videos emphasized the risks of multitasking while driving.
To help educate younger drivers, members of the Alabama Association for Justice are visiting local high schools throughout the month to talk about the dangers of driving while distracted, according to The [Athens] News Courier.
ALAJ is also part of a national initiative to reach 100,000 drivers with the message of ending distracted driving this year. “Our organization is committed to increasing safety awareness, which will help prevent injuries and fatalities,” Jeff Rickard, president of the ALAJ, told the News Courier.