A person texting takes their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 mph, that is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and in recognition of its importance, AAA warns drivers to put it down, don’t text and drive and avoid any activities that divert attention from the primary driving task. Any distractions could endanger a driver, passengers, or others sharing the road including bicyclists or pedestrians.
In a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey, the majority of Florida residents (95 percent) stated that texting while driving was their number one concern, followed by driving when tired (88 percent), grooming (78 percent) and talking on a hand-held cell phone (66 percent). “Texting while driving is an activity that can divert a per- son’s attention away from the task of driving,” said Amy Stracke, Managing Director, Traffic Safety Advocacy for AAA – The Auto Club Group and Executive Director of the ACG Traffic Safety Foundation. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The key to safe driving is learning to manage possible distractions.”
Distracted driving statistics portray a grim picture: In 2014, an estimated 3,179 people were killed (10 percent of all crash fatalities) and an additional 431,000 were injured (18 percent of all crash injuries) in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driving, according to the most recent data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Here are AAA’s top five tips to avoid texting while driving:
1. Silence your cell phone and turn off the vibration mechanism: Airplane mode is a setting available on many mobile phones. When activated, it suspends many of the device’s signal transmitting functions, thereby disabling the phone’s capacity to place or receive calls or use text messaging.
2. Ask for help: Remind the people in your vehicle to be a good passenger and enlist their help. Ask your passengers to handle tasks such as texting, placing a call or re-programming your GPS.
3. Ask family, friends and colleagues to respect your com- mute: Set mobile boundaries and politely ask them not to contact you during the hours of your commute.
4. Place your phone in the glove compartment or trunk: The old adage, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ can be applied here. Wait until you’re at your destination or safely pull into a gas station or rest area to check messages.
5. Download a safety app: Get some technological help. Many mobile safety apps can help discourage texting while driving.