April is Distracted Driving Month, and the National Safety Council (NSC) is urging Americans to #justdrive. More than a hashtag, it’s a strategy for saving lives.
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Distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives in 2015. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, [and] fiddling with the entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the tasks of safe driving.”
Texting is considered the most worrisome distraction. DOT says sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
With motor vehicle deaths on the rise, the NSC has identified some of the top driver behaviors and beliefs that increase the likelihood of being involved in a crash. These were compiled through NSC surveys over the past 12 months.
NSC president and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman says that most Americans recognize risky drivers on the roadways but are not adopting safer behaviors themselves. “The notion that bad things happen to other people but will not happen to us when we are distracted behind the wheel is akin to playing Russian roulette,” she said.
Among opinions and habits that increase risk:
- 47 percent believe it is safe to send a text either manually or via voice dictation.
- 45 percent feel pressure from employers to check email while driving.
- 33 percent believe it is acceptable to drive with fewer than four hours of sleep, when in fact, drowsy drivers can be as impaired as those who are legally drunk.
- 71 percent believe they can have up to three drinks before they are not safe or too impaired to drive.
- Two-thirds of drivers have felt unsafe due to another driver’s distraction, but just 25 percent feel their own distractions have put them or others at risk.
- 35 percent of teens would use social media behind the wheel.
Take time this month to educate your employees about driving safety and review your policies and procedures. Learn more at https://www.distraction.gov, a Department of Transportation website about distracted driving, and the NSC site, http://www.nsc.org/ddmonth.