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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month


Mon, Apr 1st 2024 04:35 pm

AAA shares tips to keep drivers focused on the road – especially during the eclipse

By AAA of Western and Central New York

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and AAA Western and Central New York is reminding drivers of the dangers of distractions behind the wheel. Distracted driving is deadly, claiming 3,308 lives in 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2022, distracted driving contributed to 8% of all the lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

AAA believes that no distraction is worth risking a life. Focused drivers save lives and prevent injuries. NHTSA reports that nearly 290,000 people were injured in traffic crashes involving distracted drivers in 2022. AAA urges all drivers to pay attention and focus on the road during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and all year long.

“Every April, AAA tries to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving with educational messaging. This year, with the eclipse taking place on April 8, the message is even more urgent,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations at AAA Western and Central New York. “Drivers should not attempt to view the eclipse while driving, nor should they try to take video or photos behind the wheel. It’s important to prepare and have a plan in place for safe eclipse viewing.”

AAA suggests planning ahead to find a place to park and observe the eclipse. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Do not drive with eclipse glasses on. Drivers should also keep their headlights turned on.

Find more eclipse safety tips here: https://info.westerncentralny.aaa.com/news-room/total-solar-eclipse-becomes-tourism-sensation.

While most people realize distracted driving is a danger, they continue to use their phones behind the wheel. According to AT&T, more than 95% of those surveyed consider smartphone distracted driving to be dangerous, but 9 in 10 people admit to doing it anyway. The research also shows that 7 in 10 drivers say their smartphone has become essential for getting around.

AAA encourages drivers to learn how to use Driving Focus features on smartphones, which are designed to prevent incoming calls and texts while a vehicle is in motion. This technology can save lives. After all, driving 55 miles per hour, taking your eyes off the road for five seconds, is like traveling the length of a football field blindfolded.

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.

All drivers should focus on the road and avoid distractions, not just this month, but every day, to protect themselves and others. Among people who died in crashes reported to involve a distracted driver, 40% of the deaths were the distracted drivers themselves, 16% were their passengers, 26% were people in other vehicles, and 18% were people outside of vehicles (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.), according to NHTSA.

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 860,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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