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Distracted driving: It's not just talking and texting on your phone

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Mon, Oct 19th 2020 08:00 am

AAA’s top tips to keep drivers focused on road during distracted driving awareness month, all year long

By AAA of Western and Central New York

In New York state, 99 people died in 96 distracted driving crashes in 2018, according to the latest data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). AAA believes no life is worth losing to distraction. Focused drivers save lives. AAA urges all drivers to pay attention and focus on the road during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and all year long.

“Nationwide, nearly 3,000 people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, contributing to the 36,560 lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways in 2018,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations. “There is no text message worth reading or sending when injuring or killing someone is the potential cost.”

Distractions include more than texting. Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, picking your next podcast, talking to other passengers, or talking or texting on the phone – can result in a fatal injury.

Despite what some drivers may think, hands-free is not risk-free. Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind focuses on the task of driving.

Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.

Here are AAA’s top tips to avoid distractions while driving:

•Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And please, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.

•Don’t drive intoxicated. Don’t drive intexticated. The consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same: Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call-/text-blocking features.

•Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.

Every year, AAA partners works in conjunction with the New York State Police, AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, and other community groups to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. AAA’s driver training program is focused on teaching drivers good habits and warning them of the dangers of distracted driving through instruction.

AAA has long been an advocate for traffic safety awareness, research, and public service announcements to help keep the public carefully informed. Resources include driving refresher courses, distracted driving initiatives like "Intexticated," and tailored driving safety advice for teens and seniors.

Violating New York state’s distracted driving laws can be costly. Know before you go. According to the DMV, using a hand-held device while driving (texting, composing emails, using the mobile telephone, playing games, etc.) in New York results in:

√ Fines of $50 to $200 for the first offense

√ If a second offense occurs within 18 months, the maximum increases to $250. If a third (or more) offense occurs, $450

√ 5 violation points added to license

√ Suspension of driver license or permit for 120 days

For more information, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.

AAA provides more than 61 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel, or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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