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Safe Driving the Focus of Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Young woman looking to her smartphone while driving car - rear view, sun shines through front window.

In Atlanta and cities across the nation, motorists are being encouraged to practice safe driving habits and stay attentive on the road during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which takes place every April. So, why is Distracted Driving Awareness Month so important?

Distracted driving has become a widespread problem, especially when more drivers today are consumed with their cell phones. It may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but a quick gaze away from the road can lead to a serious car accident, resulting in serious and sometimes fatal injuries.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving distracted for 5 seconds at 55 mph is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Statistics from the NHTSA show that nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured daily in the United States due to distraction-related crashes. The most recent data available shows that distracted driving claimed 3,308 lives in 2022.

What is the importance of Distracted Driving Awareness Month?

Throughout April, law enforcement officials across the U.S. increase their presence as part of the "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." media campaign. The goal is to remind drivers of the potentially deadly consequences of texting while driving.

There is no nationwide ban on texting or using a cell phone while driving. However, many states, including Georgia, have their own rules regarding distracted driving. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 48 states prohibit texting while driving, and 25 states ban the use of hand-held phones while operating a vehicle.

Despite these state-level restrictions, distracted driving remains a widespread problem. Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that even though 96% of drivers consider texting and emailing while driving to be serious or very serious threats to their safety, 39% admit to reading a text or email while behind the wheel in the past month, and 29% confess to typing a message while driving.

Distracted driving among younger drivers

According to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey conducted by the NHTSA, distracted driving due to hand-held cellphone use is most widespread among drivers ages 16 to 24.

To help prevent distracted driving among new and young motorists, it's crucial to provide clear guidance that they should not use their devices while operating a motor vehicle. Setting this expectation early on is key.

Additionally, we can demonstrate the importance of driving without distractions by leading by example. As experienced drivers, we must refrain from texting or engaging with our phones while behind the wheel. By modeling this responsible behavior, we can show young drivers the critical nature of keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

5 important tips for avoiding distracted driving

Taking proactive steps to educate and empower new, young drivers to maintain focus is an important way we can work to prevent tragic, avoidable auto accidents. Through clear communication and leading by example, we can help cultivate the next generation of safe, attentive drivers. Below, you'll find five key tips on how to avoid distracted driving:

  1. Plan ahead. Before starting your trip, it's essential to plan ahead by completing any necessary preparations before hitting the road. This includes programming your GPS, adjusting mirrors, and setting climate controls. By taking care of these tasks beforehand, you can maintain your focus on the road once you start driving.
  2. Familiarize yourself with your vehicle's features. To minimize distractions while driving, it's important to be familiar with your vehicle's features and functions. Before you begin driving, take the time to understand how to use essential functions and controls. This way, you won't be fumbling with unfamiliar controls while on the road.
  3. Pull over safely. If you need to make or take a phone call, it's crucial to wait until you can safely pull over to the side of the road or find a suitable parking spot. Engaging in distracting activities while driving can significantly increase the risk of accidents. By pulling over safely, you can address any urgent matters without compromising your safety or the safety of others on the road.
  4. Get help from your passengers. When driving with passengers, don't hesitate to ask for their help with tasks that could potentially divert your attention from the road. Whether it's navigating directions, changing the radio station, or handling other non-driving-related tasks, having passengers help out can help you stay focused on the road ahead.
  5. Secure loose items. Before you start driving, take a moment to ensure that any loose items, such as mobile devices or personal belongings, are securely stored. Loose items have the potential to become dangerous distractions if they shift or fall while you're driving. By securing them properly, you can minimize the risk of distractions and maintain your focus on safe driving.

Get legal help if you're injured by a distracted driver

Take an active role in preventing distracted driving, both for yourself and your loved ones. Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a great way to reflect on your own habits and educate others. Should you or a loved one get hurt in a crash involving a distracted driver, it's important to understand your rights and the potential legal options available to you.

An experienced car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. can help you file a claim, gather evidence, and obtain maximum compensation for your damages. We offer free legal consultations and will be glad to answer any questions you have, as well as learn more about your situation. Contact us online or call one of our law offices in the greater Atlanta area to find out how we can help.

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