Can you resist the urge to text or make phone calls behind the wheel? Think about it, especially during April, which is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Fast Lane, the blog of the United States Department of Transportation, features a post about the programs different states are currently using to curb handheld phone calls and texting while driving. Examples include the “Don’t Be A Zombie Behind the Wheel” campaign in California and the Talk Text Crash campaign in Texas.
Distraction.gov lists the top distractions for drivers, in no particular order:
- Talking on a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to other passengers
- Attending to personal hygiene (brushing hair, etc.)
- Reading, including reading a map Using a GPS or other navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a car radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Distraction.gov also provides a state laws page that allows visitors to click on a state to see the laws (if any) related to distracted driving. The site includes a research page, with links to several downloadable reports, including a few from the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration (NHTSA).
The 2011 National Phone Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors, conducted by NHTSA, is among the most recent and informative of these reports. The survey included 6,002 adults aged 18 years and older. Key findings include the fact that more people respond to incoming calls than initiate calls while driving, but approximately 78% of survey respondents across all age groups said that they answer the call and continue driving, vs. arranging to return the call later, when they are not behind the wheel.
For some insight on managing distracted driving by employees whose jobs involve driving, start with the distracted driving page on the web site of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. The site features a brochure and other information for businesses about preventing distracted driving, with a special page dedicated to distracted driving issues for workers younger than 18 years.
And don’t underestimate the potential power of celebrities to help curb distracted driving. Oprah Winfrey aired a show on distracted driving in January 2010. Her web site highlights the show and includes a No Phone Zone pledge to refrain from phone use while driving.