In support of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, from April 24 through April 28, Illinois has designated Distracted Driving Awareness Week. The Illinois Association of Police asked the governor to declare that week as National Driving Awareness Week. The goal is to bring awareness to the potential consequences and dangers that result from distracted driving. The governor and both houses passed resolutions, recognizing this week as National Driving Awareness Week in Illinois.
Why Do We Have National Driving Awareness Week?
We need to bring awareness to the potential dangers of distracted driving. Car accidents happen every day and phones are becoming smarter. Distracted driving has become a major cause of car accidents. This awareness may reduce the number of accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2015:
- 391,000 motor vehicle crashes occurred due to distracted driving.
- About 3,477 people were killed due to distracted driving.
- 10 percent of fatal crashes occurred because of distracted driving.
- 15 percent of injury crashes occurred because of distracted driving.
- 14 percent of police reported that a car accident happened because one or both of the drivers were distracted.
- Texting and driving has become a big problem across the country, especially for young drivers between the ages of 16 and 24.
- Young drivers have been observed using a handheld device while driving more than older drivers.
A AAA Foundation for traffic safety found that
- While eight out of ten drivers thought it was unacceptable to text and drive behind the wheel, more than one third of those same drivers admitted to reading texts while driving.
- Even though more people have died because of distracted driving recently, fewer drivers seem concerned about texting and driving.
- Texting and driving is dangerous to everyone, not just the driver.
What Will Police Do During This Week?
In many counties across Illinois, there will be a higher level of enforcement of the state’s distracted driving laws. Volunteers will donate their time to help police departments. In some cities, if a volunteer sees a person using a handheld device while driving, a warning will be sent to that person via U.S. mail. Additionally, many officers will focus on distracted driving since the dangers are real, and since police want to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.
How You Can Manage Common Driver Distractions
- Turn off your phone when driving. It is very easy to be distracted when a driver sees his or her phone light up if it is sitting on the dashboard. However, this can result in a serious injury. It might be best to just turn the phone off and put it away. This would prevent any temptation to answer a phone call, reply to a text, or even check an email. If you do need to make a call, it is best to pull over to a safe place.
- If there is a passenger in the car, and if you are using GPS, let the passenger navigate. This will give you both hands free and you can focus on the road.
- Do not eat, drink, smoke, put on make-up, shave, or do anything else that takes your focus away from the road. Everyone is always on the move, but plan your time accordingly so you do not have to engage in these activities behind the wheel.
- If you have pets in the car, make sure they are secured. Don’t let them run around the car and distract you.
- If you have kids in the car, make sure they have everything that they need. This will keep you from having to search through the car for something that they need but cannot find.