April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Distracted driving crashes killed 71 people in Wisconsin last year
Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting and driving. When traveling at 55 mph, five seconds with your eyes off the road is comparable to driving the length of a football field blindfolded, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
To remind people of the dangers of texting while driving and other multi-tasking activities behind the wheel, Congress has designated April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
“The dangers of distracted driving, also known as inattentive driving, are not exaggerated. Last year in Wisconsin, there were more than 22,000 crashes when at least one driver was listed as driving inattentively. Those crashes killed 71 people and injured nearly 10,000,” says David Pabst, director of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Bureau of Transportation Safety.
Although many actions are distractions while driving, significant public and legislative attention has been focused on talking and texting on cell phones. Wisconsin law prohibits texting while driving, and drivers with an instruction permit or probationary license, which includes many teenagers, are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving except in an emergency.
“Despite laws to prevent distracted driving, too many people still regularly talk or text on cell phones while behind the wheel. They search for things on the seats, floors or compartments. They eat a meal. They use the rear view mirror to comb their hair or apply make-up. Their attention is focused everywhere except where it should be, which is on the road,” Pabst says. “Because they’re not paying attention, distracted drivers risk causing a crash or failing to avoid one.”
To prevent distractions from cell phone use and texting while driving, WisDOT advises you to:
- Turn off your phone or switch to a silent mode.
- Use voice mail to tell callers that you can’t take the call but will contact them as soon as possible.
- Ask a passenger to make a call or text for you.
- Download a mobile app that prevents texting while driving.
- If you absolutely need to use your cell phone, pull over to a safe area away from traffic.