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At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. People of all ages are using a variety of hand-held devices, such as cell phones, mp3 players, personal digital assistants, and navigation devices, when they are behind the wheel. Those sobering statistics are from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Here are some other frightening data from the NHTSA: Seven out of 10 drivers admit they engage in smartphone activities while driving. Texting and emailing are still the most prevalent. But other smartphone activity use behind the wheel is now common. Among social platforms, Facebook tops the list, with more than a quarter of those polled using the app while driving. About one in seven drivers said they’re on Twitter while behind the wheel.
To raise awareness about unsafe behavior, numerous safety agencies have joined forces to designate April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and an additional 431,000 were injured in collisions involving distracted drivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. That same year, inattention collisions resulted in the death of 104 people and the injury of 11,436 others in California.
Every CHP Division in the state and many local law enforcement agencies have planned educational efforts throughout the month to spread information about the problem of distracted driving. April 20th will be a “zero tolerance” day when all agencies will be especially vigilant for distracted drivers. Although the purpose of the campaign is not to write as many citations as possible, sometimes citations are necessary for drivers to understand the importance of focusing on their driving.
“Driving a car is one of the riskiest activities any of us undertake on a daily basis and it is especially dangerous for our most novice drivers – teens,” Kelly Browning, Ph.D., Executive Director of ITD, said. “Simply put, we need to keep both hands on the wheel, both eyes on the road, and our minds on driving. Focus on the road ahead to get to where you’re going safely – we all have loved ones counting on us.”