Keep your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on driving — that’s the message the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), the National Safety Council and DOTs across the country want motorists to remember this month during Distracted Driver Awareness Month.
Law agencies are taking the opportunity to crack down on distracted drivers. Hawaii, California, Florida and Connecticut are among the states warning motorists of distracted driving sweeps in April, backed in large part by federal funds.
The National Safety Council once again took the occasion to promote the idea that hands-free use of electronic communications devices was no safer than handheld use. “More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer because the brain remains distracted by the conversation,” the NSC said in its Distracted Driving Awareness Month message. Their slogan is “Calls Kill: Hands-Free Is Not Risk Free.”
There are three main categories of distraction: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the steering wheel), and cognitive (thinking about anything other than driving). Some of the most common types of distractions include:
- An object, person, or event outside of the vehicle that divert a driver’s attention away from the road
- Reaching for a device such as a GPS
- Interacting with passengers
- Eating or drinking
- Unsecured pets
- Adjusting stereo or climate controls
- Lighting a cigarette
“If you are not 100 percent focused, then you’re not 100 percent driving,” said Col. David Brierton, director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Troopers around the state will continue to educate motorists on the dangers of distracted driving for the safety of all who share our roadways.”
Former U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey of Colorado made the Distracted Driving Awareness Month designation official in 2010, with the help of the victims and survivors group FocusDriven. The first Distracted Driving Awareness Month was in 2011.