April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month – training, tips & police enforcement

distracteddrivingMain-MenuApril is designated National Distracted Driving Awareness Month by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Police all over the country be enforcing laws that prohibit texting and use of cell phones while driving, under the banner of the “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” campaign on April 10 to April 15. To learn more about distracted driving there are online courses, videos, tips, virtual reality simulators and hands-on classes.

Previously, law enforcement in California and Delaware proved to be effective. At sites where effective advertising was paired with high-visibility police enforcement of distraction laws, hand-held cell phone use dropped by a third.

The Distracted Driving Awareness effort is supported by a $5 million national television, radio and digital advertising campaign, that will run from April 6-15, and reminds the public of the deadly consequences of distracted driving, and the financial penalties for violating state distracted driving laws. Ads will run in English and Spanish.

NHTSA statistics show crashes are more common among young drivers. One in four crash fatalities involve someone 16 to 24 years old. Traffic crashes continue to be the biggest cause of teen deaths, with more than 3,000 teens killed every year on roads and highways in the U.S. NHTSA reports that 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash – the largest proportion of all age groups.

A National Safety Council public opinion poll found more than eight in 10 Americans believe cell phones are addictive, underscoring the need to help drivers kick their cell phone use habit.

Many agencies and companies are offering ways to learn about distracted driving.

Business Tips

CNA Risk Control offers this list of tips for businesses to minimize auto distractions.

  • Issue a written company policy on avoiding all distractions and cellphone use while driving.
  • Prohibit the use of cellphones when operating any vehicle on company business.
  • Use cell blocking technology for cellphones in company-owned vehicles.
  • Require drivers to be legally parked if they want to use a cellphone from their vehicle.
  • Implement a discipline program for violation of in-vehicle behavior and cellphone policies.
  • Allow voice mail to handle calls.
  • Allow a passenger in the vehicle to handle calls.
  • Notify callers via voice mail when employees are driving that they are not available to answer the call and will return calls when it is safe to do so.
  • Encourage employees to inform regular callers of their driving schedules and when they are available to talk.
  • While driving, remind employees to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes and minds on the road.

Online Driving Training and Discounts

In honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, U-Haul International Inc., introduced its online distracted driving course. The free, self-guided online course teaches ways to avoid distracted driving, including texting and driving. Those that complete the course will be able to receive discounts  on U-HaulCarShare to those who complete the course. UhaulCarShare is availalbe in 21 states with vehicles readily available 24/7 on an hourly or daily basis.

Virtual Distracted Reality

teendriveAt the New York Auto Show Toyota showed its TeenDrive365 distracted driving simulator with Oculus Rift, to educate the users to the dangers of distracted driving.

The Toyota TeenDrive365 simulator puts the teen behind the wheel of a stationary Toyota car while wearing an Oculus Rift headset. There is virtual driving experience with three-dimensional sights and sounds of a busy city street. During the simulation, the teen is challenged to drive safely using the car’s steering wheel and pedals, while navigating a series of distractions, including traffic noises, the radio, text messages and virtual friends who occupy the passenger and back seats. If drivers lose focus and they experience the consequences of distracted driving within the virtual setting. The objective is for the teens to learn more about distracted driving.

KIA Sponsored B.R.A.K.E.S Driving School

To provide teenagers with the training and tools to be safe and responsible behind the wheel, Kia Motors America (KMA) and the B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) Teen Pro-Active Driving School offer free advanced driver training to new cities nationwide.

The B.R.A.K.E.S. Training Curriculum includes the following:

  • Accident Avoidance/Slalom: The two-part course simulates an animal or object jumping out in front of a car. It forces students to make a split-second reaction to help negotiate a quick, evasive lane change without losing control of the vehicle.
  • Distracted Driving:The course demonstrates the danger that cell phones, text messaging, and other distractions can pose while driving.
  • Drop Wheel/Off Road Recovery: This course shows students how to effectively recover when one or more of their wheels veers off the road surface and onto the shoulder, regaining control of the car and safely returning to the roadway.
  • Panic Stop: he panic stop course instructs students on proper braking techniques to help stop a vehicle in the shortest distance possible while maintaining control.
  • Car Control and Recovery: A wet skid pad simulates wet-road conditions. Students learn how to recover from both over-steer (rear wheel) and under-steer (front wheel) skids