(Video password: Intexticated)
VIRGINIA BEACH — April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and AAA Tidewater is launching a new, multiyear initiative to reduce deaths and injuries as a result of cellphone use by drivers.
AAA’s multimedia traffic safety education campaign created a catchy theme, “Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Don’t Drive Intexticated.”
New public service announcements were produced “to help audiences understand that the consequences of using a smartphone while driving are the same as drinking and driving,” according to a news release from AAA Tidewater Virginia.
The campaign targets drivers who would never consider drinking a beer behind the wheel, and yet, regularly engage with mobile devices that take their eyes, hands and minds off the road.
In Virginia, more than 50,000 people were involved in crashes that were attributed to distractions, a 21 percent representation of all the crashes in 2017, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In addition, 25 percent of the fatalities on the road were a result of a distraction, a difference of 40 fatalities that were due to alcohol related crashes. There were 11,493 reported crashes related to alcohol with 248 fatalities. In all, 235,306 crashes were reported in the Commonwealth, according to the DMV.
“AAA has made traffic safety a priority since 1921, working to make roads, vehicles and drivers safer,” said Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia.
New research released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that even though 97 percent of drivers say texting/emailing while driving is a serious or very serious threat to their safety, 45 percent admit to having read a text or email while driving in the past month, and 35 percent admit to having typed one.
Campaign messages will appear as public service announcements, on social media, at special events, in the AAA member magazine, and in AAA branches.
Distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 each day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the third leading driver-related cause of crash deaths behind speeding and driving under the influence.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has conducted numerous studies regarding distracted driving that demonstrate:
Drivers interacting with cell phones to perform tasks like texting or surfing the Internet are two to eight times more likely to be involved in a crash.
Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of being involved in a crash.
59 percent of all teen crashes involve some form of driver inattention, and 12 percent of teen crashes involve cell phone use.
Here are some safety tips to consider:
- Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
- Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
- Pull over. If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
- Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
- Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
- Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
- Everyone should prevent being intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.