April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Last year in Wisconsin, 94 people were killed in distracted driving crashes
A hairbrush, a hamburger and a cellphone—all are harmless except when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle.
“When drivers comb their hair while looking in the rearview mirror, eat a meal, or text message while driving, they are in fact distracted and in danger of causing a crash or failing to avoid one,” says David Pabst, director of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Bureau of Transportation Safety. “Trying to multi-task while driving is a recipe for disaster.”
To remind people that they must give driving their undivided attention, Congress has designated April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
“The dangers of distracted driving, also known as inattentive driving, are not exaggerated and are a growing threat to everyone on the road. Last year in Wisconsin, 94 people were killed in crashes in which at least one driver was listed as driving inattentively. In addition, 10,615 people were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2015,” Pabst reports. “That’s an increase from 2014 when 72 people were killed and 9,704 were injured.”
To help motivate people to pay attention behind the wheel, WisDOT has produced new TV, radio and online messages that creatively highlight how distracted driving is entirely preventable. The video messages, featuring a new super-villain known as the “Distractor,” also will be available on WisDOT’s Facebook and Twitter.
To help local communities combat distracted driving, WisDOT has allocated federal funding to support law enforcement task forces in Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Juneau, La Crosse, Sauk, Waupaca, Portage and Wood counties.
In addition, WisDOT will continue to display messages warning about the dangers of distracted driving on electronic signs on major highways.
Pabst says, “Even though you may have a busy life and have thought about multi-tasking behind the wheel, it’s time to put a stop to distracted driving habits, which put your life and the lives of others in grave danger.”
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.