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April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Driving requires skills, training, and a great deal of attention. Each year, thousands of people die due to distracted driving, leading the country to recognize April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Drivers everywhere should renew their commitments to avoid talking and texting on mobile phones and engaging in other behaviors that distract their attention from the road.

National Distracted Driving Awareness Month began as a legal resolution introduced by former Representative Betsy Markey in 2010. On March 23, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed this resolution in an almost unanimous vote of 410-2. Erica Forney, a nine-year-old victim of a distracted driving accident, is mentioned in the resolution. Shelley Forney, mother of Erica, is a founding board member of the group Focus Driven—Advocates for Cell-Free Driving.

The National Safety Council (NSC) encourages drivers throughout the country to take a pledge to drive cell free. The organization will conduct a free webinar on April 10 and registration is offered through the NSC website. The NSC also provides a variety of relevant resources on its site for free download. These include promotional posters, a fact sheet, videos, and a white paper about the distracted brain.

When it comes to distracted driving, most emphasis is placed on cell phone use and for good reasons. Drivers who use cell phones have a four-time greater likelihood of crashing. There is no difference in risk for hands-free or handheld use of cell phones. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately nine percent of drivers talk on cell phones at any given moment during daylight. This represents more drivers than those who practice other distracted behaviors.

The AAA Foundation 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index indicated that more than two of every three drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving within the prior month. A shocking one in every three admitted to doing this either regularly or fairly often. When combined with the risk of a crash, the frequency and prevalence of cell phone use while driving call for action to be taken.

Most drivers who use cell phones never intend to injure or kill themselves or others. Unfortunately, they become statistics that indicate an increasing problem in this country. Take the pledge to drive cell free today and encourage other drivers to do the same. A call or text is not worth jeopardizing your safety as a driver or the safety of others.

*Photo Courtesy of Jason Meredith via Creative Commons License