$5M campaign aims to put brakes on distracted driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 6:05 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 4, 2022 at 10:28 PM CDT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and it’s aimed at putting the brakes on a dangerous practice that claims thousands of lives each year.

Cellphones, the radio, even food food are all distractions in our cars that can have deadly consequences. Nationally, distracted driving claimed more than 3,000 lives in 2020, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that number is much higher.

“As part of the the 3,000 that have died in 2020 in distracted related crashes, more than 580 of those were pedestrians, bicyclists and others outside the car,” explained NHTSA’s Rob Ritter. “So this is a problem that affects everyone on the roads.”

Ritter noted that texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for an estimated five seconds.

“At 55 miles per hour, those five seconds means that you’re driving over the length of a football field, basically not looking at the road with your eyes closed,” Ritter said. “So it really is something that people think that they can do, but it really is a very risky behavior.”

To help reduce distracted driving, the NHTSA has launched a $5 million media campaign. It targets drivers 18 to 24, which statistics show are among those most likely to have a cell phone in their hands.

“We will have our informed law enforcement partners all across the country, and in Alabama, out on the roads, protecting our neighborhoods and protecting our communities,” Ritter said. “They’ll be looking specifically over the course of this campaign for people who are holding their their phones, who are texting, who are violating those laws, and we’ll be pulling them over and writing tickets.”

The hope is to save lives, and you can be a partner in this effort. Parents are encouraged to talk their children about the dangers of distracted driving and to set the example by putting down their own phone and paying attending when behind the wheel.

Visit NHTSA website to learn more about the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign.

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