Irving, Texas – April 1, 2014 – Distracted driving has become a dangerous epidemic on American roadways. With a continued rise in reliance on hand-held devices for daily communication, more teens, young adults and adults are having a tough time staying focused on the road when driving.
To help spur a reduction in the alarming incidence of distracted driving, one of the nation's leading independent motor clubs - the National Motor Club (NMC) - is offering its support of Distracted Driving Awareness Month throughout the month of April. NMC is supporting this awareness-raising initiative by encouraging drivers across the country - including hundreds of thousands of NMC members - to sign the National Safety Council's cell-free driving pledge. NMC will also be educating its members about the dangers of distracted driving all month through a series of informative e-mail and social media alerts.
“Each year, millions of drivers hit the roads with their mobile devices, and far too many drivers use those devices while driving, putting themselves and others at risk for serious injuries or worse," said Matt Krzysiak, CEO of National Motor Club. "This issue is quickly becoming a national epidemic, and deserves serious attention. That's why we are encouraging all drivers to sign the pledge to avoid distracted driving, and to abide by that commitment. It's all part of making driving safer for everyone."
The following facts on distracted driving, compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, further illustrate the seriousness of this issue:
- In 2012, distraction-affected crashes resulted in 3,328 fatalities across the U.S.
- That same year, an estimated 421,000 people nationwide were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver
- At any given daylight moment across the U.S., about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010
- Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increases the risk of getting into a crash by 3-4 times
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent (at 55 mph) of driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded
- Drivers using cell phones have slower reaction times than drivers with a .08 blood alcohol content, the legal limit for intoxication in most states
- Studies show that hands-free cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use
Embracing this important cause and recognizing the need for change, NMC offers the following additional safety tips for drivers:
- Commit your full attention to driving. Tasks that compete for drivers' attention - including even hands-free cell phone conversations - cause them to miss important information from the roadway environment, such as other vehicles' movements, the presence of pedestrians or cyclists, signs and potential hazards.
- Handle distracting tasks when the vehicle is stopped or in park. This includes not only texting, e-mailing, and placing phone calls, but also personal grooming and manual operation of vehicle systems such as the sound system, GPS navigation, climate controls, mirrors and other related distractions. Many of these systems are increasingly complex, taking the driver's focus away from the road. Avoid these tasks while driving except in case of emergencies.
- Plan meals accordingly. Whenever possible, avoid eating or drinking while driving. Pull over and stop in a parking lot for a few minutes if you need a snack or beverage. At the very least, avoid messy foods that are particularly likely to cause spills and unwanted distractions.
- Secure any cargo before driving. Whether your cargo is your children and pets, or groceries and loose change, it can be distracting if it's all over the place while you’re driving. Securely fasten people, animals and possessions in place before you hit the road. If children or pets should need your attention while driving, pull off the road where you can safely deal with them.
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month was first established through a resolution authored by former U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a 410-2 vote on March 23, 2010. For more information, visit the U.S. Government's website or the National Safety Council's Distracted Driving Awareness Month website.