According to officials, distracted driving injures nearly 450,000 people and kills more than 5,000 people in the U.S. each year. In an attempt to increase awareness and reduce these numbers, April has been named Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
What is Distracted Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines Distracted Driving as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Types of driving distractions can include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Reading (including maps)
- Using a navigation system
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
- Watching a video
- Talking to passengers
- Eating and drinking
*Texting is known to be the most alarming distraction by far because it requires a driver’s attention to be diverted visually, manually and cognitively.
Distracted Driving Facts and Stats
Studies show that drivers who engage in visual-manual subtasks while driving are 3x more likely to be involved in a car crash. This includes reaching for a phone, texting and/or dialing a phone, or using other hand-held portable devices.
Texting while driving takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. When traveling at 55mph, this equates to covering the length of a football field…blindfolded. And yet, the number of distracted drivers on the road continues to be a problem.
71% of teens and young people say they have composed and sent SMS messages while driving.
78% of teens and young adults say that they have read an SMS message while driving.
25% of teens say that they respond to a text message once or more EVERY time they drive.
20% of teens and 10% of parents admit to having had extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.
27% of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes are drivers in their 20s.
10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal car accidents were reportedly distracted at the time of the crash.
Illinois and Missouri State Laws Prohibit Distracted Driving
In an effort to help protect drivers and everyone else on the road, Missouri and Illinois have enforced laws against distracted driving.
Texting while driving is banned for drivers 21 years old or younger.
Cell phone use (both handheld and hands-free) is banned for on-duty bus drivers.
Cell phone use (both handheld and hands-free) is banned for drivers 18 years old or younger.
Texting while driving is illegal for ALL drivers.
It is illegal to use a cell phone while driving in a school zone or in a highway construction zone.
Use of handheld phones is banned for ALL drivers.
Prevent Deadly Distractions
Any time you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or your mind off your primary task of driving safely, you are putting yourself and others around you in very serious danger. It is important to realize that the statistics related to distracted driving are non-discriminating and can happen to anyone.
In honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we urge you to share this article and take the pledge to drive phone-free. Turn your cell phone off when you turn the ignition on. Whatever the message or conversation, it can wait until you arrive at your destination safely.