We have written often in this blog about the dangers and growing problem of distracted driving. Texting and other distractions resulting from the use of hand-held personal devices kill and injure. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that in 2012 alone, distracted driving accounted for 3,328 deaths and an estimated 421,000 injuries in the United States.
This week, the United States Department of Transportation has launched its first ever National Distracted Driving Enforcement and Advertising Campaign. The campaign will combine $8.5 million in national television, radio and digital advertisements with a nationwide crackdown by law enforcement on texting while driving in states with distracted driving bans.
This campaign puts the dangers of driving while using hand-held personal devices on the same par as previous efforts by the NHTSA to combat drunk driving or encourage seat belt use. The advertising campaign will use the phrase: “U Drive. U Text. U Pay,” and will run in English and Spanish. The ads can be seen on Distraction.gov.
The national campaign is the result of the success of two federally funded distracted driving demonstration programs in California and Delaware. Advertising and law enforcement efforts in those programs resulted in a drop of approximately 33% in observed hand-held phone usage while driving in those states.
The NHTSA makes the following suggestions to prevent distracted driving:
Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers.