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Driving Safety Tips for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Man with hands on steering wheel

During April, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) raises awareness about the dangers of driving while distracted. As part of the Distracted Driving Awareness


Month public education and awareness campaign, Black Jack Fire Protection District wants residents to know important safety tips and driving best practices to stay safe and use care and caution on the road.


According to NHTSA statistics, distracted driving resulted in the deaths of more than 3,300 individuals in 2022. Distractions take the driver’s eyes and attention away from driving. While cell phones are one of the most common distractions in the car, they are not the only distractions luring attention away from the road.


Every driver has a responsibility to others on the road. Do not drive distracted; understand the temptations that lead to distracted driving accidents and fatalities.


Table of Contents:

Distracted Driving Statistics

  • Types of Distracted Driving

  • What Are Some Examples of Distracted Driving?

  • Distracted Driving Accidents

Texting and Driving Statistics

  • Texting and Driving Facts

  • Dangers of Texting and Driving

  • Tips to Minimize Driving Distractions

Don’t Text and Drive


Key Takeaways:

Distracted driving kills thousands of people every year. Understand that distractions and driving are a lethal combination. Use automated text messages while driving and implement other strategies to limit distractions on the road.


Distracted Driving Statistics

More than 3K people died in 2021 and 2022 because of distracted driving. Sending a text message, calling a friend, or eating a snack while navigating the road leads to dangerous and deadly consequences. 


The prominence of cell phone distractions and related accidents led to 14 states (including Missouri!) enacting “holding bans.” This means that holding a cell phone while driving is illegal, leading to a ticket and fines. 


Types of Distracted Driving

The Centers for Disease Control explains that there are three types of driving distractions: cognitive, manual, and visual. 


  • Cognitive distractions refer to incidents that take the driver’s mind off of the act of driving.

  • Manual distractions are physical distractions; drivers take their hands off the wheel or engage with other items.

  • Visual distractions refer to any action that disengages the driver’s visual attention from the road or the act of navigation. 


What Are Some Examples of Distracted Driving?

While many drivers understand that texting and driving or using a handheld device distracts attention from the road, distracted driving encompasses numerous types of cognitive, manual, and visual disruptions. 


Woman turning to face her child in a car seat while driving

Examples of cognitive distractions include talking to a passenger, disciplining a child while driving (the “I’m turning this car around” distraction), driving under the influence, and even road rage. When the mind is focused on emotions or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the mind cannot fully control the act of navigation. 


Manual distractions are physical interruptions. Using a handheld device, eating, flipping the station on the radio, applying makeup, and adjusting the climate controls disrupt driving. 


Visual distractions remove the eye’s focus from the road. Examples of these distractions include reading a text, looking at scenery (or rubbernecking during an accident), and glancing at a passenger. 

 

All distractions are equally dangerous. While many statistics focus on injuries and accidents related to texting while driving or cell phone use, each type of distraction has the potential to lead to an accident or a fatality. 


Distracted Driving Accidents

It could be nearly impossible for law enforcement to understand the impact of distractions on the road fully. Not every distraction could be reported. A driver at fault for an accident might not admit they were flipping the radio station or otherwise disengaged. 


According to distracted driving statistics from 2021 compiled by the NHTSA:


  • 14 percent of accidents resulting in injury were tied to distracted driving

  • Distracted driving resulted in more than 362K injuries

  • Five percent of drivers causing fatal accidents were distracted

  • 644 individuals outside of a vehicle (bicyclists, pedestrians walking, etc.) lost their lives to distracted driving


Texting and Driving Statistics


Woman holding a cell phone while driving

Statistics related to cell phone use and texting are widely reported and cited. Unfortunately, cell phone use while driving is extremely common among teens. The National Safety Council cited a study conducted by the CDC and researchers at Ohio State University that examined risky behaviors of teens; the results were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. 


Notably, 38 percent of teens admitted to texting while driving at least one time during the month; teens living in rural areas had a higher risk of texting while driving. White teens also were much more likely to text and drive.


Dangers of Texting and Driving

How dangerous is texting and driving? The NHTSA creates animpactful perspective, noting that sending a five-second text while driving at 55 MPH leads to navigating the distance of an entire football field. Imagine driving this distance without fully paying attention to the road or the cars on the road. 


Tips to Minimize Driving Distractions

Driver changing the radio station in a car

Practice safe driving habits and educate teens about the dangers of using smartphones while they drive. Distractions can be visual, cognitive, or manual, but all distractions can be fatal. There are numerous tips for staying safe while driving:


  • Use smartphone features that turn off the device while driving. This feature for Apple is called Do Not Disturb While Driving or Driving Focus (on new iPhone models).

  • Silence phones and devices while driving

  • Set the radio or temperature controls before hitting the road

  • Pull over somewhere safe when angry, agitated, or distraught

  • Do not “rubberneck” at accident scenes


Don’t Text and Drive

Black Jack Fire Protection District urges all residents in the District to stay focused while driving. Do not drive while distracted and remember that in the State of Missouri it is against the law to hold a mobile device while driving.


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