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What Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month?

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What Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month?Every April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month casts a spotlight on the dangers and repercussions of driving while distracted. Spearheaded by traffic safety advocates and supported by law enforcement agencies and community leaders, this initiative aims to educate drivers about the risks of this common practice and reduce the number of accidents and fatalities that occur every year.

As drivers, we have an important responsibility to maintain focus while behind the wheel. Even a moment’s inattention can lead to disastrous outcomes. Here is what you need to know about distracted driving and what you can do to make a difference during this year’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving refers to any activity that diverts attention from driving and impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. These distractions are commonly grouped into three main categories:

  • Manual Distractions: These involve activities where the driver takes their hands off the steering wheel. Examples include handling a smartphone, adjusting the navigation system, or eating and drinking while driving.
  • Visual Distractions: These occur when the driver takes their eyes off the road. This could be looking at a text message, searching for items in the car, or turning to talk to passengers.
  • Cognitive Distractions: These involve the driver’s mind wandering away from the task of driving. Cognitive distractions could involve daydreaming, having deep conversations with passengers, or being preoccupied with personal or work-related thoughts.

Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?

Distracted driving is extremely dangerous because it not only increases the likelihood of failing to recognize potential hazards but also delays reaction time. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), taking your eyes off the road for five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour is the same as driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed.

In 2022 alone, 3,308 people were killed by distracted drivers in the United States. This is because distracted driving reduces a driver’s awareness of road signs, traffic patterns, and the behavior of other vehicles, increasing the likelihood of avoidable accidents.

Furthermore, the distraction compromises the driver’s ability to execute evasive maneuvers that could prevent crashes, thereby enhancing the potential for collisions that can result in severe injuries or fatalities.

For example, they might not notice that they need to reduce speed in a construction zone or when weather conditions worsen. If a car ahead of them stops suddenly, a distracted driver might not be able to break in time, resulting in a rear-end collision.

Similarly, a distracted driver may fail to observe pedestrians at crosswalks or cyclists sharing the road, increasing the risk of devastating accidents with more vulnerable road users.

What Can You Do to Reduce Distractions in Your Vehicle?

Reducing distractions in your vehicle is crucial for safe driving. Here are several practical steps you can take to ensure that your focus remains on the road:

  • Set your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode: Activating this feature on your mobile device can prevent incoming calls and texts from diverting your attention away from the road.
  • Pre-set your GPS and music playlists: Adjust your navigation and entertainment choices before you start driving to avoid interacting with these devices while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Keep your vehicle organized: Secure all loose items that could move around when the car is in operation. A tidy car will lessen the need to reach for fallen objects or remove your eyes from the road.
  • Limit passenger interaction: Discuss with your passengers the importance of maintaining a calm environment that allows you to concentrate. Encourage them to help you stay focused rather than being a source of distraction.

How Can You Spread Awareness About Distracted Driving?

This Distracted Driving Awareness Month, you can help protect others in your community by spreading awareness about the dangers of this practice. You can contribute to this cause by:

  • Educating through facts and statistics: Many people do not realize how dangerous distractions truly are. Share compelling data to highlight the risks of distracted driving, such as the NHTSA statistic about driving the entire length of a football field.
  • Hosting informational sessions: Set up presentations at schools, workplaces, and community centers to educate others about safe driving practices. Organizations like EndDD offers resources to help you set up a presentation in your community.
  • Engaging employers in safety initiatives: If you work in a job that requires you to drive a vehicle, advocate for the adoption of company-wide distracted driving policies. Encourage employers to facilitate distracted driving presentations to foster a culture of safety.

What Should You Do If You Encounter a Distracted Driver?

Encountering a distracted driver can be unsettling. To handle this situation safely, make sure to maintain a safe following distance; increase the gap between you and the distracted driver to avoid a collision in case of sudden stops or erratic behavior.

Do not attempt to pass the vehicle. Stay alert and keep a close eye on the distracted driver to determine if their behavior worsens. If the driver appears to be dangerously erratic, pull over to a safe location away from traffic to avoid any direct interaction.

Finally, report the distraction to the authorities. Note the vehicle’s license plate number, make, model, and the driver’s description, and call 911 to report the situation as soon as possible.

What Should You Do If You Are Hit by a Distracted Driver?

If you are involved in an accident with a distracted driver, it is important to remain calm and seek help as soon as possible. First, call 911 to report the accident and request any necessary medical assistance. Seek medical attention as soon as you can, even if you do not feel injured initially.

You should also collect as much evidence as possible, as long as it is safe and you do not put yourself at risk of further injury. Take photos of the vehicles, the location, and any visible injuries, and collect contact information from witnesses. Once you have received medical care, contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.

You may be eligible to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the person responsible for your accident. A Renton personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal process and work to secure the compensation you deserve for any damages and injuries sustained. Following the accident, contact a Washington car accident lawyer immediately to discuss your case and begin the process of filing your claim.