The statistics about distracted driving are alarming. About 10 of us die in the U.S. each day, and more than 1,000 people are injured in vehicle crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Of all the collisions on all the roads in the country, 10 percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes, and 14 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes involve a distraction. Each one of those deaths, injuries, and damaged vehicles is entirely preventable. So, why does it still happen?
Educating teens and adults about the dangers of distracted driving is important. After all, thousands of teens die in motor vehicle crashes every year. As parents, we have an obligation to be the model driver we want our children to be. But it’s still not enough. What more can we do to get drivers to put down their smartphones and pay attention to the road?
Our End Distracted Driving volunteers go into middle schools and high schools across the U.S. to bring young people this message directly: drive distraction-free every time you’re behind the wheel and speak up when your loved ones are driving distracted. We tell them that even as passengers, we have the power to save lives. Study results have validated this influence we have over others. Results from a 2017 AT&T survey showed that 57 percent of drivers would put down their phones if asked by a friend. Another study found that more than 80 percent of us would stop driving distracted if asked by one of our most frequent contacts, and 70 percent of us would download an app that would block notifications when driving.
EndDD.org speaks with kids, teens and adults about the power we all have to get those we care about (and who care about us) to put the smartphones down. The EndDD.org 2018-19 high school presentation includes this new video created for EndDD.org by Pennsylvania high school student Ben Cerauli.
Speaking up is all it takes to bring someone’s bad choice to their attention. It could be a short and simple statement like the passenger in the video makes: “I don’t feel safe when you’re looking at your phone instead of the road.”
Driver distractions aren’t limited to cell phones either. A distraction is anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and/or mind off the task of driving. When we draw attention to the distraction that’s happening next to us, we’re pointing out that the behavior is not safe. It could be the sentence that saves our loved one’s life next time.