Whether walking, biking, scooting or driving to work, school or the grocery store, people living in the United States are constantly on the move while simultaneously staying connected to the digital world via smartphones. The problem: These distractions—phone calls, social media, texts, games, video-chats and more—are dangerous, particularly while driving, and can be deadly. The National Safety Council analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data finds that more than 3,000 people died in distraction-affected crashes in 2020; that is an average of nearly nine people dying in a distracted driving-related crash every single day on American roads.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, an observance dedicated to preventing distracted driving, which is anything that takes one’s attention away from the task of driving. Distracted driving includes everything from smartphone activity to using a navigation system or eating while driving, and there are three types of distraction: visual (taking one’s eyes off the road), manual (taking one’s hands off the wheel) and cognitive (taking one’s mind off the road). Mobile device use involves all three at once.
“Using a mobile device while driving is the ultimate form of distraction, but distraction comes in many forms,” said Mark Chung, executive vice president of roadway practice at NSC. “You need to just drive when you’re behind the wheel; it doesn’t matter if you’re talking on speaker phone, mentally preoccupied, or eating breakfast on your way to work, it’s distracting and puts you and others in danger while you’re driving. It’s unnecessary and not worth the risk.”
To combat the misconception that doing something else while driving is acceptable, the U.S. Department of Transportation, as part of its National Roadway Safety Strategy, included support for vehicle technology that detects and deters distracted driving; safer vehicles is a pillar of the Safe System approach supported by NSC, USDOT and other road safety organizations. It is also imperative that drivers stop trying to multitask while operating a motor vehicle and instead, focus on the task of driving for the safety of all road users, including themselves.
This April, join NSC and other safety organizations across public and private sectors in observing Distracted Driving Awareness Month to bring attention to this underreported issue in order to prevent injuries and save lives for drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, workers and first responders. For more information on the observance, please visit nsc.org/justdrive. To learn more about how to be safe on the roads, visit nsc.org/saferoads.