The entire month of April is being observed as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. During the month, the dangers linked to driving while distracted are being addressed as part of a united effort to improve road safety. There are also efforts in place that seek to prohibit more avoidable deaths by way of education and other means of raising awareness.
Motor vehicle accidents that are caused by distracted drivers are entirely preventable. As such, one of the aims of this month of observation is to use various efforts to prevent more tragedies. One such effort is the use of the hashtag #justdrive on different social media platforms to assist with promoting personal pledges and further spreading the word about the importance of using safe practices and driving without dangerous distractions.
For the most part, a huge part of the focus on distracted driving was geared toward teen drivers. However, statistics have been revealing a trend that proves this problem is being perpetrated by drivers of every age. It should be noted that while there has been a general trending down of accidents related to distracted driving, the numbers are still quite significant. For example:
- Over the past decade, distracted drivers have been responsible for causing the most motor vehicle accidents.
- A minimum of 9 Americans are killed and roughly 100 receive mild to severe injuries every day in accidents caused by distracted driving.
- Every 7 seconds, a crash-related injury occurs and every 15 minutes, an individual dies in a motor vehicle crash.
- The driver’s eyes are taken off the road for roughly 4.6 seconds when he or she sends or receives a text message. This is the same as driving blindfolded at 55 miles per hour for a distance that spans a football field.
Oregon Distracted Driving Law
Also known as the cell phone law, the Oregon distracted driving law went into effect on October 1, 2017. In essence, the law states that driving while using or holding a laptop, cell phone, GPS, tablet or other electronic devices is illegal.
On January 1, 2018, courts in Oregon were given the authority to put aside the fine for first-time offenders, if they participate in an official Distracted Driving Avoidance course. Proof of attending this course must be presented to the court within four months. It should be noted that only the fine will suspended in this type of case; the driving record of the offender will still reflect the violation.
A few exceptions are there; however, for the most part, simply turning off your devices while you are driving is the best course of action to take.
In the case of a first offense that does not cause a motor vehicle accident, this is categorized as a Class B violation and it comes with a maximum fine in the amount of $1000. Where there is a second offense or in a case where an accident was caused during the first offense, this is categorized as a Class A violation, which carries a maximum fine in the amount of $2000. When a third offense occurs within a ten-year period, this is categorized as a Class B misdemeanor and this could lead to a maximum fine in the amount of $2500 and jail time of 6 months.
Personal Safety Pledges
A pledge has been created by The National Safety Council with the intention of helping others to commit to putting away different forms of distractions while they are driving. Research, education, leadership and advocacy are some of the effective approaches used by The National Safety Council to eradicate preventable deaths in the home, at work, within the community and while travelling on the road. This pledge is available on the Internet and the guidelines below are included in the commitment to increase road safety:
- No texting or exchanging messages via social media
- No telephone conversations and this includes handheld and hands-free calls
- No updating or accessing social media
- No use of the voice-to-text feature through the dashboard system of the vehicle
- No reading or writing of emails
- No capturing of videos, photos or selfies
- No calling or texting an individual you know is driving
- No putting in of destination information into your GPS while the operating the motor vehicle
Everyone is being encouraged by The National Safety Council to commit to this pledge and share the pledges with others. The more individuals who pledge to practice safe and distraction-free driving behaviors, the less dangerous the roads will be for all stakeholders.
The Role of Business Owners in the Awareness and Prevention of Distracted Driving
The number one cause of deaths in the workplace is distracted driving accidents. The associated costs of these accidents are absorbed by employers whether or not the accidents take place on the job. As such, it is in the best interest of employees to raise awareness and implement exercises that will lessen and ultimately prevent such accidents from happening.
Thankfully, the National Safety Council provides a free Safe Driving Kit that employers can use as resource material. This kit is meant to educate and provide support for policies that safeguard employees of a company by inspiring safe driving practices and behaviors. This kit comprises materials that can be used to strengthen company policies and to consistently distribute information to employees all through the year. These include:
- Myth Busters
- Fact sheets and FAQs
- Stories from Survivor Advocates
- Pre-made communications designed to educate employees
- Links to additional resources that promote safe driving
A lot more lives can be saved when employers are committed to getting involved in efforts geared towards encouraging safer driving practices. Awareness about distracted driving extends beyond the month of April and aims to get the involvement of more organizations.
The Path Forward
As the current laws and statistics regarding distracted driving and its associated accidents are deliberated during this month, it is extremely essential that the human toll that is paid from these types of behaviors are seriously considered. Regardless of the size of the statistic, when it comes to the loss of human lives, it is too high.
Each day, senseless tragedies continue due to otherwise insignificant distractions. During the month of April, commit to developing better driving habits. You can also assist by spreading the word and allowing others to recognize the importance of putting away the distracting devices and #justdrive.