Did you know that April 30th has been designated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as the day to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving caused by the use of cell phones by drivers, particularly texting while driving? This isn’t a small problem. It’s huge!
At any moment in the United States, there are 660,000 people using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. They’re dialing phone numbers, using their GPS and texting while driving.
Did you know that the average time your focus is off the road
when you send or receive a text is five seconds?
Did you know that in those five seconds, at 55 mph,
you travel the length of a football field—blind?
Those aren’t arbitrary statistics. They come from a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and in 2014, the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of crashes or near-crashes due to distracted driving is even higher among young (i.e., new) drivers. As the NHTSA warns:
That’s a very long distance to not pay attention to the road. … Text messaging is of heightened concern because it combines three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive. In other words, texting involves taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off the task of driving.”
Here are the statistics that put into perspective just how dangerous distracted driving is:
- In 2013, 3,154 people were killed and approximately 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that involved distracted drivers. (NHTSA)
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to be involved in a serious crash. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
- In 2013, distracted driving played a role in 10% of fatal crashes, 18% of injury crashes, and 16% of all motor vehicle traffic crashes. (NHTSA)
- In 2013, 10% of all drivers between 15 and 19 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted during fatal and near-fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
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How Employers Can Help Reduce Distracted Driving
The NHTSA has a variety of resources available on its Distraction.gov website to help employers reduce distracted driving by their employees who are on the road as part of their jobs. From posters and educational materials to policies and press releases, you can find what you need to reduce distracted driving in your organization.
If you’re a business owner or corporate executive, make 2015 the year you prioritize keeping your employees and everyone else on the road safe.
To make it as easy as possible for you to get started, the NHTSA’s sample employee policy, sample letter announcing the new policy to employees, and sample press release announcing the new policy to the media and community can be found below.
Be sure to follow the link earlier in this article to visit the NHTSA distracted driving campaign website for more information. And don’t forget to help raise awareness by using the #justdrive hashtag on April 30th.
Do you already have a distracted driving policy at your company? Leave a comment below and share your experiences and recommendations!