April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the news isn’t good.
The DriversEd.com “2019 Distracted Driving and Social Media Report” found:
• Majority of drivers admit to checking social media while driving
• 26 percent have watched videos behind the wheel
• 25 percent have recorded videos behind the wheel
• 19 percent have noticed a rideshare driver checking social media
“There’s no way around it: the data is startling,” said Laura Adams, safety and education analyst at DriversEd.com, an online driving school. “I wish I could say the solution is as simple as parents talking to their teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. But parents are also the ones checking their Facebook, watching YouTube videos and recording Instagram videos. We are in an ever-growing distracted driving crisis, and the consequences are deadly.”
Adams added that for many drivers, health and safety takes a backseat to their likes and shares.
“Stuck in traffic. Waiting at a stop sign. Stopped at a red light. These are all situations where many drivers think it’s safe to send that text or scroll through their social feed — but the realities of the road say otherwise,” Adams said. “Pedestrian deaths, which are currently at a 30-year high, often occur at intersections and crosswalks as the result of a driver being distracted.”
According to The National Safety Council, every day, at least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes. Distracted Driving Awareness Month was formed as a united effort to recognize the dangers of and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving.
Dealerships can join in the effort to help save lives by educating new-car buyers on proper use of their vehicle’s features and encourage them to use it safely. While much of new vehicle technology has been incredible life savers, the NSC says cell phones, dashboard touchscreens, voice commands and other in-vehicle technologies pose a threat to our safety.
Although this technology has helped save lives, AAA warns that “hands-free is not risk free.” Just because a drivers’ eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel does not mean a motorist is focusing on driving.
In order to combat a false sense of safety with your customers, your staff can learn about and support the use of cell phone blocking technology apps for smartphones, which prohibit calls or texts while a vehicle is in motion. Many send text or email notifications, providing helpful information for parents of teen drivers.
Here are a few to recommend to customers:
Apple iOS 11 and later — Do Not Disturb While Driving (many of these features can be customized in Settings):
• iPhone stays silent and the screen stays dark. If someone sends you a message, they receive an automatic reply letting them know that you’re driving. If the message is important, the sender can type the word “urgent” to make sure that you receive a notification. Then you can pull over to read their important message or ask Siri to read it to you.
• iPhone delivers some notifications, such as emergency alerts, timers and alarms.
• Phone calls are delivered using the same conditions as standard Do Not Disturb: You can allow calls only from your Favorites, and you can allow calls to come through if the same person calls twice in a row. If your iPhone connects to your car via Bluetooth, calls will come through as usual, and you can use the buttons, microphones and speakers in your car to take your call.
• If you use Maps to navigate, your iPhone still shows lock-screen navigation help and gives turn-by-turn instructions.
AT&T DriveMode: This free app helps you avoid distractions from text message alerts and incoming calls while you are driving. When enabled, incoming alerts are silenced, sending text messages is restricted and incoming calls go directly to voicemail. The app turns on when the GPS detects you are driving 15 MPH or more and turns off when you drop below 15 mph for 2-3 minutes. Parents with young drivers can receive a text message alerting them if the app is turned off.
DriveSafe.ly: This mobile app reads text (SMS) messages and emails aloud in real time and automatically responds without drivers touching the mobile phone.
Let’s do our part to help curb distracted driving, this month and all year long. If you would like to receive Distracted Driving Awareness Month materials, visit safety.nsc.org/ddam. For DriversEd.com’s full report — which includes additional data, insights and analysis — visit driversed.com/trending/pledge-put-your-phonedown-during-distracted-driving-awareness-month.
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