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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2018 Vol. 65 No. 4

DISTRACTED DRIVING AWARENESS MONTH

Distracted driving is a public health issue that affects us all. The latest statistics show motor vehicle fatalities are up 6% from 2015. More than 40,000 people were killed on our nation's roadways last year, and distracted driving is a major contributor.

Each death is 100% preventable. From cell phones to dashboard infotainment systems to evolving voice command features – all pose a threat to our safety. Just one second of your attention is all takes to change a life forever.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April is a united effort to recognize and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving. Join us to help save lives.

Thousands have Died in Crashes Involving Cell Phone Use

Many distractions exist while driving, but cell phones are a top distraction because so many drivers use them for long periods of time each day. Almost everyone has seen a driver distracted by a cell phone, but when you are the one distracted, you often don't realize that driver is you.

New technology in vehicles is causing us to become more distracted behind the wheel than ever before. Fifty-three percent of drivers believe if manufacturers put "infotainment" dashboards and hands-free technology in vehicles, they must be safe. And, with some state laws focusing on handheld bans, many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device. But in fact, these technologies distract our brains even long after you've used them.

Make no mistake: This multitasking technology is about convenience, not safety.

2017 Estimates Show Vehicle Fatalities Topped 40,000 for Second Straight Year

Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate motor vehicle deaths dipped slightly – 1% – in 2017, claiming 40,100 lives versus the 2016 total of 40,327. The small decline is not necessarily an indication of progress, as much as a leveling off of the steepest two-year increase in more than 50 years.

The 2017 assessment is 6% higher than the number of deaths in 2015. If the estimate holds, it will be the second consecutive year that motor vehicle deaths topped 40,000.

About 4.57 million people were injured seriously enough to require medical attention in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, and costs to society totaled $413.8 billion. Both figures are about 1% lower than 2016 calculations.

"The price we are paying for mobility is 40,000 lives each year," said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. "This is a stark reminder that our complacency is killing us. The only acceptable number is zero; we need to mobilize a full court press to improve roadway safety."

Factors impacting motor vehicle fatality trends include an improved economy, which has helped fuel a 1% increase in miles driven from 2016 to 2017.

NSC is Calling for Life-saving Measures

To help ensure safer roads, the National Safety Council (NSC) urges motorists to:

  • Practice defensive driving; buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions
  • Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from prescription opioids; visit Stop Everyday Killers to understand the impact of the nation's opioid crisis
  • Stay engaged in teens' driving habits; visit DriveitHOME for resources
  • Learn about your vehicle's safety systems and how to use them; visit MyCarDoesWhat.org for information
  • Repair recalls immediately; visit Check To Protect to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall

Originating website:
The National Safety Council

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