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April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

According to the recent Safety In Numbers newsletter released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given moment during the day in America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating some sort of electronic device while driving a motor vehicle. In 2011, this dangerous practice has resulted in 3,300 deaths and 387,000 injuries.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDT) marks April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, to call attention to the dangers of distracted driving. It’s time for drivers to put down their cell phones, electronic devices and other distractions such as food and drinks.

While driving:

  • 1 in 2 drivers answers calls
  • 1 in 4 drivers place calls
  • 3 in 5 young drivers answer calls
  • 1 in 3 young drivers place calls
  • 2 in 5 young drivers were observed manipulating a handheld device

The U.S. Dept of Transportation reports that “Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injuries.” Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, “Many drivers do see distracted driving as risky when other drivers do it, but don’t recognize how their own driving deteriorates. We all think we’re the exception. We think, ‘It’s dangerous for others, but I can handle texting or talking on a handheld cell phone without jeopardizing my safety or the safety of others.’”

The bottom line is that the only way to safely drive is to concentrate. So avoid all of these distractions while driving:

  • reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle
  • looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle
  • reading
  • eating
  • applying makeup

BE SAFE. If you absolutely have to answer or place a phone call while you’re driving, use a hands-free device or pull over to the side of the road. And don’t minimize the dangers of routines like eating or applying makeup while you’re behind the wheel. No matter the cause, distracted driving exacts a tremendous cost from a wide range of people.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notes that driving requires constant and complex coordination between mind and body. They categorize distractions as anything that undermines a driver’s visual, cognitive and/or manual concentration. To determine whether or not an activity is too distracting to do while driving, consider whether it takes your: eyes off the road (visual) mind off the road (cognitive)  and hands off the steering wheel (manual).

“Making destination entries on an in-vehicle navigation system, radio surfing for a good song, or adjusting your vehicle’s climate controls are distracting activities that can put you in danger of a vehicle crash or near-crash. The availability of in-vehicle Internet and e-mail access from cell phones, blackberries, and other portable devices are added distractions that increase your risk of a crash if you engage in these activities while driving.”

The California Driver’s Handbook also includes cabin navigation as a potential distraction: 

  • Adjust climate controls, mirrors, radio, seats, etc. before you start to drive.
  • Check email, voicemail, and any other portable devices you have before you begin driving.
  • Take advantage of normal stops to adjust controls but not to text or email.
  • Ask your passenger to adjust the radio, climate control, navigation system, etc. for you.

To combat the problem, many states are enacting laws—such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers. In 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving for government business or with government equipment. And in October 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.

The best way to combat the dangers of distracted driving is to opt out of the practice even before the law requires it. After all, when a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

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