There’s no denying that distracted driving is a nationwide epidemic. After all, it claims thousands of lives every year, injures many more, and is totally preventable. As April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it’s a perfect time to take a look at our own driving behavior and motivate others to do the same.
Like hundreds of other volunteers with End Distracted Driving (EndDD), I beat the drum year-round about the dangers of distracted driving. EndDD’s campaign has reached hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and Canada. Spearheaded by Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson, EndDD aims to save lives in memory of their daughter Casey, who was killed by a distracted driver. With the help of community leaders, trial lawyers and other professionals, EndDD provides science-based presentations to schools, workplaces and community groups to raise awareness and help change drivers’ bad habits.
There are still many places that the campaign has not yet reached. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer speaker and bringing a presentation to your community, click here. You’ll receive all the materials and instructions you need to deliver a great presentation. If you’re not a public speaker, consider hosting a distracted driving presentation at a local school or elsewhere in your community. EndDD will connect you with a volunteer speaker who will bring the presentation to your town.
There are also many ways to be part of the solution at home, too. Check out the four suggestions below.
1. Put the phone away BEFORE you drive.
This is probably the most obvious one, so let’s get it out of the way first. About 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone or manipulating an electronic device at any given moment during daylight hours in the U.S. Text messaging is an exceptionally dangerous distraction for drivers because it requires their visual, manual, and cognitive attention. The easiest way to avoid this distraction is to put your phone in the back seat and forget about it until you have arrived at your destination. If playing music over Bluetooth, get your playlist going before leaving the driveway or parking space. Set it and forget it. No exceptions.
Keep in mind that distracted driving is not limited to cell phone use while driving. Distractions also include eating and drinking, controlling the radio, grooming, and any other acts that take a driver’s attention away from the road.
2. Speak up when others drive distracted.
We don’t let our friends drive drunk, so we shouldn’t let them drive distracted either. As a passenger, help your driver drive distraction-free. Suggest alternatives to these distractions by offering to be a “designated texter,” reading or sending e-mails on the driver’s behalf, operating a GPS, or offering any other help that will allow your driver to be 100 percent focused on driving.
3. Employers, require employees to drive safely.
EndDD.org notes that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of on-the-job death. Employers can protect their employees by talking with them about safe-driving habits and establishing workplace cell phone policies. If you’re a business owner, you can make a public commitment to safe driving on social media or through a press release. In addition, consider downloading EndDD.org’s sample Cell Phone Policy and adapting it for your workplace.
4. Take the pledge and hold yourself accountable.
The National Safety Council (NSC) has developed a distraction-free driving pledge you and your family members can sign. You can fill out the online form and submit it to the NSC. The pledge reads as follows:
“I pledge to Just Drive for my own safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose to not drive distracted in any way – I will not:
- Have a phone conversation – handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
- Text or send Snapchats
- Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
- Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media
- Check or send emails
- Take selfies or film videos
- Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
- Call or message someone else when I know they are driving”
EndDD.org also has a pledge to drive safely, which you can download, print, and sign. By signing one of these pledges and having your family members do the same, you can hold one another responsible for driving safely now and in the future.
You know whether you drive distracted or not. If you could be driving safer, consider taking the recommendations above and incorporating them into your daily life.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).