A quick glance at our phones. A bite of a snack. A short phone call. These actions don’t seem dangerous by themselves. While driving, they can be deadly distractions. Even a split second of distraction that takes our eyes – or even just our mind – off the road can lead to a crash that claims a life.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time established by the National Safety Council (NSC) to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
Mark Chung, National Safety Council Vice President of Roadway, said the need for awareness is especially urgent now, as NSC’s preliminary crash data from 2020 shows that motor vehicle fatality rates increased during the COVID-19 pandemic even though there were fewer cars on the road.
“We’re seeing an increase in speeding-related crashes and more than 700 people are injured daily due to distracted driving,” Chung said.
NSC established Distracted Driving Month more than 10 years ago, and it serves as a time to call on people to make better choices behind any wheel, whether it’s their personal vehicle, a forklift or a semi.
Chung wants people to understand that distracted driving includes many behaviors which, in addition to talking on the phone, include quickly looking at the vehicle dashboard to adjust settings while driving.
“It could include focusing on the radio or getting engrossed in conversations with other passengers in the vehicle,” he emphasized.
A recent survey released by NSC and the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association (CVVFA) Emergency Responder Safety Institute ahead of Distracted Driving Awareness Month found that parents over the age of 25 who drive with children in the car are most distracted by texts, phone calls, and their children.
“Human error or choices are factors in 94% of crashes,” Chung said, adding that NSC believes autonomous driving technology has the potential to change the status quo, save lives, and make roads safer.
NSC is a partner of Let’s Talk Autonomous Driving, a Waymo-led public education campaign with the mission to engage the public about the potential benefits of autonomous driving technology, such as making roads safer. For example, the Waymo Driver never gets distracted, can see 360 degrees around it and up to three football fields away in both daylight and at night.
Waymo and NSC are working together to raise awareness about distracted driving. Visit NSC’s website to take the “Just Drive” pledge and learn about other ways to improve road safety.