As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is encouraging employers to enact a company policy on distracted driving.
Employers can download a sample policy and customize it to meet their own needs. The agency is also recommending that companies distribute pledge forms to employees and urge them to share the form with friends and family.
In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and an additional 431,000 were injured in collisions involving distracted drivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. That same year, inattention collisions resulted in the death of 104 people and the injury of 11,436 others in California, according to NHTSA.
NHTSA is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Behind every distracted driving death is a story of loss. In the blink of an eye, lives can be transformed forever,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Scrolling through song lists on a cell phone or texting while driving is not just irresponsible, it can have tragic consequences. We’re calling on drivers to put down their devices and help keep the roadways safe for all Americans.”
Federal, state and local law enforcement will be out raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted Driving Awareness Month includes a national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown called U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
The campaign, which runs April 8-13, is aimed at combating distracted driving nationwide. The effort includes television, radio and digital advertisements. Drivers caught texting or using their mobile devices when behind the wheel will be issued citations in states with distracted driving bans.
“Lives are at stake on our highways. NHTSA wants to drive behavior change, stop bad habits, and encourage safe driving,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “People need to understand the potential price of distracted driving. The cost of a ticket is nothing, compared to the irrevocable cost of taking someone’s life.”
In California, the state’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will conduct a social media campaign urging drivers to “silence the distraction.” According to data from the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, 22,306 people were involved in distracted driving collisions in 2013. Distracted driving victims in California increased slightly in 2014 to 22,652.
Representatives from NHTSA, the California Highway Patrol, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and Impact Teen Drivers joined together in Inglewood, Calif., on April 5 to officially launch Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
“As we rely on our cell phones more and more in our everyday lives, we seem to be kidding ourselves in thinking that they don’t affect our driving,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “Crashes are up. The scientific evidence is solid. The dangers are real, and they apply to all of us. We need to silence the distractions.”
A 2014 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, based on actual behavior rather than law enforcement reports, found that distraction arising from cell phone use is much more prevalent than official government statistics indicate.
“Our investigators can determine if speed, alcohol, or drugs were a factor in a collision,” California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “However, it is difficult to determine when distracted driving is the cause. Most people do not declare that they were distracted before they crashed. Therefore, we know distracted driving statistics are underreported.”