Each day, 10 people die in distracted driving crashes - contributing to the 37,000 people killed in crashes on U.S. roadways during 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This National Distracted Driving Awareness month, AAA is calling for drivers to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on the task of driving every time you’re behind the wheel.
“No distraction- whether texting or eating a sandwich- is ever worth the loss of life on the roadway. It takes just a split second for everything to take a deadly turn,” said Kelly Just, AAA Washington Traffic Safety Program Manager. “These senseless deaths can easily be prevented if drivers choose to focus on the core task of driving when behind the wheel, ask their passenger to be a designated texter, or turn off their phones.”
Contrary to what some drivers may think, hands-free, handheld and in-vehicle technologies are very distracting, even when a driver’s eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. The latest AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that:
· Drivers who text when behind the wheel more than double their odds of being involved in a crash;
· Drivers who use in-vehicle technologies, like voice-based and touch screen features, can be distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message. During that time, a vehicle travelling a 25 miles per hour covers the length of four football fields.
AAA offers these tips to stay safe while on the road:
- Turn off your phone and other electronic gadgets.
- Choose a designated texter; a passenger to answer in-coming calls, send or respond to text messages and to assist with navigation when the vehicle is in motion.
- Never use text-messaging, email functions, video games or the internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle.
- Use a feature or app that tells others you’re unavailable because you’re driving and prevents audible notifications.
- Create a pre-drive routine where you program your GPS, load podcasts and select music before heading out.
- Don’t call or text someone you know is driving.
Under Washington’s new “Driving Under the Influence of Electronics” (E-DUI) law that took effect last July, drivers cannot hold cell phones or watch videos while they are driving, stopped in traffic, or at a stop light. The law includes tablets, laptops, games, or any hand-held electronic devices. Hands-free use is restricted to a single touch.
Violating Washington’s distracted driving law can be costly. The price for a first E-DUI ticket $136. A second ticket within five years doubles your fine. Information from these cell phone infractions is available to insurance companies and could influence premiums. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission reports that nearly 1,500 Washington drivers have been ticketed each month since the E-DUI law went into effect July 2017.
For information, visit AAA’s Digest of Motors Laws at drivinglaws.aaa.com.