April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which serves as a crucial reminder to stay mindful behind the wheel. Distracted driving related deaths have been on the rise with a 10% increase in 2019, killing more than 3,100 people.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic caused us to stay at home and off the roads last year, many of us are now back to our workplaces and school. With more folks back on the road and summer road trips coming up, keep these stats and tips in mind to stay safe while you drive.
Know the risks and statistics
- Each day, nearly eight people are killed in the U.S. by a distracted driver.
- The majority of fatal crashes involve teen or young adult drivers under 25 years old.
- 1 in 4 car crashes involve texting.
- 50% of crashes involve the use of a cell phone.
- While driving 50 to 55 miles per hour for 5 seconds, your car has traveled the length of a football field, or 360 feet. Keep this in mind when attempting to glance at your phone while driving.
Preventing distracted driving
Both drivers and passengers can take steps to prevent distracted driving. Parents and caregivers of teens and young adults can also help encourage safe driving.
Drivers should follow these precautions:
- Do not multitask when driving. This includes eating, talking on the phone, operating your radio or GPS, etc.
- Consider using apps to help you stay focused, which can prevent you from texting, making calls or using your phone.
- If you must make a call when driving, use a hands-free method or connect your smartphone to your car’s Bluetooth, if applicable.
- Adjust your mirrors, music and GPS before hitting the gas. Don’t do this while on the road.
Passengers can help drivers stay focused by following these precautions:
- Speak up if you notice the driver multitasking or becoming distracted.
- Help the driver with navigation or other tasks as needed.
Parents and caregivers can encourage their teen and young adult drivers to be safe by sharing recent statistics of car fatalities involving distracted driving. Emphasize that texts and calls can wait until they get to their destination. Know and discuss your state’s driving laws, including the consequences and penalties for distracted driving. Set an example by always driving safely and not being distracted when in the care with your teen or young adult. Those in Florida can take it one step further and sign the pledge to avoid distracted driving.
More information and resources related to distracted driving can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
TraumaOne at UF Health Jacksonville is the only adult and pediatric Level I trauma program in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. Our TraumaOne team is dedicated to the safety of our community. Find more resources on injury prevention at TraumaOne.UFHealthJax.org.