As part of National Distracted Driving Month, American Trucking Associations is urging motorists to put their cell phones away and focus on safe driving while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
“Each year, thousands of people are killed in crashes related to distractions,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “We urge motorists to put down their phones and keep their eyes and minds on the road.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,100 people were killed and another 424,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes in 2013, while an improvement over the previous year, ATA still believes more needs to be done.
Some of the country’s most professional and safe drivers, the America’s Road Team, have some important information on the dangers of distraction, which can include electronic distractions, like navigation systems and cell phones, or more conventional distractions, like interacting with passengers and eating.
Here are some facts:
• Writing or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 MPH, that’s like driving the length of a football field – blindfolded.
• If you text while you’re behind the wheel, you’re 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a non-distracted driver.
• Talking on a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity devoted to driving by 37%.
• 45 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all drivers.
• 14 states and the District of Columbia prohibit hand-held cell phone use by all drivers.
• Young people are especially at risk: In 2011, 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
• Stay Focused – Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road at all times. One small distraction can cause an accident.
• Put Electronics Away – Put your cell phone away, as well as all electronics, while behind the wheel. Nothing is more important than getting to your destination safely.
• Plan Your Trip – Plan your route ahead of time so you aren’t distracted looking at a map or navigation system. Pay attention to highway signs and traffic.
• Be Aware of Blind spots – Trucks have large blind spots in front, back and either side. Try to avoid lingering in this space and do not cut in front of a truck.
• Be a Good Passenger - Speak up if the driver in your car is distracted.
“Highway safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said America's Road Team Captain Henry Bruster with UPS Freight, Woodville, Miss. “If we all devote more attention to the task of driving and less to our phones, it goes a long way to making sure everyone finishes their trip safely.”