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Distracted Driving Comes with a Cost: Your Life

Posted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Drivers know about the dangers of drunk driving and driving without a seat belt. Unfortunately, a relatively new danger has crept into the nation’s driving habits: distracted driving.

In 2015, distracted driving killed 3,477 people and injured 391,000.

To help keep drivers and passengers safe, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and state and local law enforcement are partnering again in April as part of 2017 National Distracted Driving Awareness Month for the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement effort. The national enforcement program, which ran April 6-10, worked to deter distracted driving to help save lives. If a driver was caught texting and driving, he or she was pulled over and ticketed for putting lives at risk. The enforcement mobilization was supported by English- and Spanish-language ads that conveyed a powerful message about the consequences of distracted driving.

The dangers of distracted driving couldn’t be more apparent. Drivers are taught from the very beginning to keep their eyes on the road. If you read or send a text while driving, on average, you take your eyes off the road for five seconds. In those five seconds, a vehicle moving at 55 miles per hour travels the length of a football field. In an instant, you could kill yourself, a loved one or a total stranger.

Another frightening reality is that at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 542,000 drivers are using handheld cell phones while driving, according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey. That’s a lot of distracted drivers. Not surprisingly, the percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2015. Since 2007, young drivers (age 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers (NHTSA).

In this era of constant connectivity and instant responses, it can be a challenge to put down the cell phone. However, the dangers of texting or talking on the phone while driving are too great. No text or call is worth endangering a life. If a call or text must be answered, find a safe place to pull over and park the vehicle before answering.

Drivers know that texting and driving is a dangerous behavior, but so many continue doing so. Many claim they are good at it, and others try to only text at a red light. But the bottom line is texting and driving is dangerous no matter how you look at it—in fact, it’s as dangerous as drinking and driving. As we continue through April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, be part of the nationwide effort to drive smarter and safer. You may help save a life.