April Declared By Governor Rick Scott As Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Yulee, Fla. – There are more than 15 million licensed drivers in Florida and millions of other who visit the state each year. In 2014, there were over 42,000 distracted driving crashes in Florida resulting in more than 200 fatalities and over 35,000 injuries.
“Distracted driving is a real problem on our roadways,” Sheriff Bill Leeper said. “Too many people think it is okay to text, talk on the phone, or play with their mobile devices while driving, but doing so may lead to real consequences and unnecessary tragedies.”
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, drivers between the ages of 20-29, who represent 18 percent of all licensed drivers in Florida, were responsible for 31 percent of all distracted driving crashes last year.
“While anything that takes your eyes off of the road, hands off of the wheel, or mind off of the task of driving is a hazard, there is a heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive,” Leeper said. “It’s best to turn off your phone or mobile electronic device and put it in the trunk, glove compartment or back seat where you won’t be tempted to look at it or use it.”
Distracted driving, especially among young people, has become recognized by safety experts and the public as one of the biggest risks on our roads and highways. The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, along with other police agencies throughout the U.S., will be extra vigilant by enforcing laws that prohibit texting and use of cell phones while driving, under the banner of the “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” campaign.
“Although texting and talking on cell phones gets the major public attention, there are other causes of distraction that can divert a driver’s attention from the road,” said Leeper. One of the biggest causes of distraction, especially for new teen drivers, is having other teens in the car.
In addition to cell phone use, distractions while driving can include eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, using a navigation system, watching a video and adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player.
Here are some safety tips to prevent distracted driving:
- Always buckle up.
- Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
- Don’t let a phone call distract you from driving safely.
- Allow voice mail to handle your calls and return them at your convenience.
- Pull off the road to a safe area or ask a passenger to make or take a call for you.
- Position the phone in easy reach.
- Use a hands-free device if available.
- Suspend conversation during hazardous driving conditions.
- Do not engage in stressful or emotional conversations while driving.
- Never take notes or look up numbers while driving.
- Talk to your kids about how to be safe while driving. Remind kids to follow traffic signals and laws, make eye contact with pedestrians, and enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
- Let your actions speak as loud as your words. Set a good example for kids by putting devices down when you’re driving. If parents put devices down, kids are more likely to do the same.
- Take action against distraction. Teach kids to put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until their final destination.
- Be alert around neighborhoods and schools. When driving, be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones and be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.