April 1st signals more than just a day for April Fool’s Day pranks, it’s also the start of nationally recognized Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The goal is to increase awareness of what happens when people don’t pay attention to the road while behind the wheel.
Drivers can be easily distracted by talking or texting on their phones, changing the radio station, applying makeup, eating, or even engaging in conversations with passengers in the vehicle. This month is a time to focus on the choices one makes behind the wheel. According to the National Safety Council, drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cellphones are 4 times more likely to be involved in a car crash. In 2010, an estimated 21% of all U.S. traffic crashes involved people talking on cellphones while driving.
Here are some tips to help condition yourself, or your teen driver, to focus on the road:
- In order to avoid distraction on your journey, be prepared before you put the car in. Make adjustments to mirrors, seats, radio, or the A/C, put your trip details into the GPS, and turn off your phone before you begin driving.
- Eat before driving. This way, you won’t be tempted to snack while you are behind the wheel.
- Turn off the ringer on your phone while you driving and place your phone out of reach. Out of sight, and out of mind. You can check any messages once you have reached your destination and safely parked the car.
- Set up a playlist on your MP3 player before you drive. You won’t have to take your eyes off of the road or your hands off the wheel to find a good song while driving.
Remember, not only is distracted driving a dangerous habit, texting while driving is illegal in Florida and 40 other states. This month, reflect on the truth that while driving is a privilege, it also comes with great responsibility.