Kansas City, MO – April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Region 7, consisting of Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, is working with respective law enforcement to ramp up enforcement of distracted-driving laws to raise awareness about the dangers of using your phone while driving. This annual campaign is part of NHTSA’s national U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement effort that runs from April 7 – 11, 2022.
To kick off this initiative, Connect to Disconnect (C2D), a 4-hour national distracted driving enforcement and awareness initiative will take place on April 7. The goals of C2D are to demonstrate a nationwide commitment to enforcing cell phone and texting bans, and to reduce traffic crashes caused by distracted drivers, ultimately preventing injuries and deaths associated with cell phone use and texting while driving.
According to NHTSA, between 2012 and 2019, 26,004 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. In fact, there were 3,142 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2019 alone. This represents a 10% increase in distracted driving fatalities from 2018, more work must be done to reduce this – there’s no excuse. The distraction figure was the largest increase in causes of traffic deaths reported for 2019.
Millennials and Generation Z are the most distracted drivers, often using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while behind the wheel. According to NHTSA research from 2017, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007. In 2019, 9% of people killed in teen (15-19) driving crashes died when the teen drivers were distracted at the time of the crash.
“Distracted driving has become a leading cause of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads and Region 7 is no exception. Much of this distraction is attributed to texting while driving,” said Regional Administrator Susan DeCourcy. “People know texting and driving is dangerous and often illegal, but they selfishly give themselves a personal exemption to do it anyway, and this behavior unfairly puts others at risk. Beginning April 7, if you text and drive, you will pay.”
Many drivers are guilty of a “double standard” when it comes to distracted driving. In the AAA Foundation’s 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index, they reported that while nearly 96% of drivers believed it was very or extremely dangerous to read a text or email while driving, 4 out of 10 drivers admitted to doing so within the previous 30 days.
NHTSA urges you to put your phone down when you get behind the wheel. If you need to text, then pull over and do not drive. Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal in all states except Missouri and Montana. No text or post is worth ruining someone’s day—or taking a life. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/udriveutextupay.