April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

I hope you are not one of those people who has decided that they are a multitasker while driving.  I am always shocked to see people reading books or newspaper, putting on make up, eating.  Worse of all are those who are texting or carrying on a phone call while in traffic. Often they speed up and slow down which can make me concerned that they are alcohol or drug impaired.   

Our Directed Patrol Unit supervisor, Sgt. Jill McDonnell gave us a great website on this topic: Distracted Driving.

In it author gives some statistics about the relationship between traffic crashes and distracted driving: 

  • In 2012, there have been an estimated 307,753 car accidents involving drivers using cell phones and texting (National Safety Council: Cell Phone Crash Estimate Model) .

  • In 2009, distracted driving claimed 5,474 lives and led to 448,000 injuries (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)).
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices while driving are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves or others. (NHTSA).
  • Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes (NHTSA).

 In addition the author gives us some safe driving tips to prevent distracted driving:

  •  Plan in advance – Eat, check your e-mail, make calls and texts, know your route and finish your grooming routine before you get in the car. That text can wait.
  •  Stay focused – Limit interactions with your passengers, don’t talk on the cell phone (even hands free), don’t text and don’t take notes or surf the Internet. Let a passenger control the radio or if you are alone, set your iPod to shuffle and don’t touch it.
  • Pull over – If you must do any of the tasks mentioned above, pull over in a safe, well-lit area to talk on the phone, etc.
  • Make a commitment to yourself – Promise yourself that you will not text and drive and that you will avoid distracted driving.
  • Tell your teen drivers and your loved one not to text and drive – Spreading knowledge and awareness is another key to stopping this bad driving behavior before it becomes habit, especially for inexperienced teen drivers. Give them this list of safe driving tips and what to do at the scene of an auto accident.

I know many people believe that they are so adept that they can do all sorts of other tasks while driving.  In fact driving IS multitasking all by itself.  And keep in mind that texting is against the law in Michigan.

So keep your hands on the wheel and pay attention to what you are doing–it will be safer for us all.Texting While Driving

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I'm the Chief of Police for the Auburn Hills Police Department.