The AAA auto club is rolling out a safe-driving campaign aimed at people who text on their phones while behind the wheel. It comes the same week as a Syracuse driver was killed by a distracted driver. The problem is more prevalent – and deadly – than you might think.
Triple-A of Western and Central New York has found most people think driving while texting is dangerous – 90 % rated it a serious threat. But spokesperson Lindsay Kensy says it doesn’t’ stop them.
“45% of those people admit to using a cell phone while driving, either reading a text, or 30% admit to having typed a text. So this distraction leads to death and injuries every year. Nine people (on average) are killed every day because of distracted driving.”
Their starting a media campaign called “Intexticated” – driving. The P-S-A for T-V and social media shows a driver with children in the car driving … with a beer in his hand. It’s trying to make the point that texting-while-driving it’s just as dangerous as drinking and driving.
“So we’re really trying to make distracted driving as social unacceptable as drinking and driving is,” said Kensy.
She says Bluetooth or voice texting might be a bit better – but is still shown to be a distraction, especially when you look away from the road.
“If you look away from driving for two seconds, it doubles your risk of a crash, so it’s a very serious distraction. And we have also found that if you look away from the road for five seconds, that’s equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded. So if you think about that, that’s quite a distance and who knows what could be in your path in that distance, what could happen.”
Kensy recommends putting the cell phone away, maybe not connecting to on-screen functions, and to pull over if you have to text or make a call. Passengers can help by sending any message or using the navigation so the driver doesn’t have to check it. And from home, you can try not to call or text someone who you know is driving.
TIPS TO HELP REDUCE RISKS OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
- Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
- Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
- Pull over. If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
- Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
- Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
- Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
- Everyone should prevent being intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.
AAA says 9 people are killed every day, on average, in crashes caused by distracted driving. The messages come at a time when Central New York knows all too well the dangers. An Onondaga Hill accident this past week saw a woman killed when authorities say a driver was checking an electronic map and drifted into a head-on collision.
The “Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Don’t Drive Intexticated” campaign rolls out this week.