Kicking Off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month, and with good reason. Distracted driving is the leading cause of car crashes in the U.S. today. In 2020 alone, this dangerous driving behavior resulted in more than 3,142 traffic deaths.
This year, as for the last eight years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) kicks off the month with its eighth annual U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Campaign. Safety partners nationwide are again teaming up with the NHTSA to help remind drivers to avoid distractions, like texting.
Learn what the NHTSA and your local community are doing to help educate drivers about distracted driving behaviors this year.
At PKSD, we support National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Wisconsin and across the U.S. We see firsthand the consequences of families and victims dealing with the aftermath of a distracted driving crash. Often, since drivers are not watching the road and have no time to react, these collisions cause serious or fatal injuries.
What is the U Drive. U Text. U Pay Campaign?
The purpose of the U Drive. U Text. U Pay Campaign is to remind drivers about the consequences of texting and driving. While texting is not the only dangerous type of distracted driving, it remains the leading cause of deadly crashes.
To date, 48 states, along with Washington, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, have laws prohibiting texting and driving. During this year’s campaign, you may see more police enforcing these laws, including in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. Police will also use the opportunity to educate and remind drivers about the dangers of texting and driving.
A Driver’s Duty of Care Includes Putting Away Your Phone While Driving
All drivers owe a duty of care to reasonably prevent harm to others while behind the wheel. This includes not engaging in any type of distracted driving. Any activity that takes your attention and eyes off the road could cause harm or death to yourself and others.
How Far Do You Travel While Sending a Text?
The answer may surprise you. Sending a text takes, on average, about five seconds. If you are going just 55 miles per hour, that is like driving the full length of a football field with your eyes closed.
In only one second of looking away from the road:
- A car could suddenly merge into your lane
- Your vehicle could drift into a lane of oncoming traffic
- You could hit a road hazard, such as a pothole or object in the road
- One or more pedestrians, bicyclists or an animal could dart in front of your car
- You may miss a red light or stop sign and be hit by another car
What Are the Legal Consequences of Distracted Driving in Wisconsin?
- Ticket – even for a first offense
- Fines that increase with each offense
- Jail time with criminal charges if violation leads to the injury or death of another person
What Age Group is Most Likely to Text and Drive?
The NHTSA reports that drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are more likely to text and drive. However, studies also show that 72 percent of Wisconsin drivers involved in distracted driving collisions in 2020 were over 25. In short, recent studies show that all drivers are at risk of being in or causing a distracted driving crash.
How Can You Help Reduce the Number of Distracted Driving Crashes?
There are multiple ways every driver can help to reduce serious and deadly crashes caused by distracted driving, including:
- Do not text and drive: Being an example is the best way to teach your children and teen drivers about safety on the road. Your children and teens mimic what they see, not what you say.
- Teens can lead their peers: Doing the right thing amongst friends takes a lot of courage when you are a teen. However, if you can encourage your teen and several of his or her friends to agree together to not drive distracted, it may help. Talk to your teen driver about the risks and give them tips on handling the temptation to text while driving.
- Employers and educators: Everyone can contribute to encouraging safety and discouraging texting or any other type of distracted driving. Educators can spread a positive message about why teens should avoid texting and driving. Employers can create a company policy against distracted driving.
Texting is Not the Only Type of Distracted Driving Behavior
Any type of behavior that takes your attention and your eyes off the road is distracting and therefore illegal in Wisconsin, as in other states. Other common distracted driving behaviors include:
- Any sort of grooming, putting on makeup or fixing hair
- Using car technology, such as your GPS or radio
- Taking videos, selfies or other photos
- Joking around or talking to people in your vehicle
- Dealing with children is extremely dangerous while driving
- Eating or drinking behind the wheel
Drivers need to fully focus their attention on the road. This means keeping both hands and both eyes on the road as well.
Follow These Tips to Reduce Your Temptation to Text and Drive
While texting is not the only form of distracted driving, it is certainly one of the most common. To help reduce the temptation to text, here are some top tips provided by the NHTSA:
- Pull over: If texting cannot wait, pull over to a safe location and park your car first.
- Appoint a designated texter: If you have a passenger, have him or her text on your behalf.
- Put your phone out of reach: If you cannot resist texting, put your phone away or turn it off.
It is better to reach your destination alive, than to send a text message that could result in a serious or deadly crash.
Call PKSD for Legal Help if You Were Injured By a Distracted Driver
At PKSD, our experienced collision lawyers in Milwaukee are prepared to help victims injured by the negligent actions of others. We are dedicated to seeking justice for injured victims and holding negligent drivers accountable for their actions.
Call our law firm anytime, night or day, to schedule a free, initial consultation. There is no risk for this meeting, even if we find that you have a valid case. If we represent you, there is also nothing for you to pay up front or while we work your case. We do not get paid unless you do.
Call Our Law Firm for Legal Help You Can Trust. 877-877-2228