RICHMOND, VA (Monday, April 2, 2012) – For the past six years in April, the Commonwealth has observed either Distracted Driving Awareness Day, or more recently, Distracted Driving Awareness Month. During this 30-day period, safety advocates across the Commonwealth have initiated educational campaigns on the dangers of distracted driving with the goal of saving lives on Virginia roadways, as distracted driving continues to be recognized as a top danger behind the wheel.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved driver inattention within three seconds of the crash. In addition, researches at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have found that using a cell phone increases crash risk by 4 times. Since cell phone use occurs more frequently and for longer durations, this is number one source of driver inattention behind the wheel.
“It takes just a few seconds for driver inattention to trigger a crash. We know that distracted driving is a major problem for the driving public. Once again dedicating an entire month of activities to raising awareness provides the flexibility needed for people to get involved and make a difference,” said Janet Brooking, Executive Director of DRIVE SMART Virginia. “Driving is an activity that demands ones full attention. DRIVE SMART Virginia and its more than 250 partner organizations are committed to raising awareness about distracted driving in order to help educate drivers and reduce the numbers of distracted driving crashes. We want all drivers to understand how significantly their behavior behind the wheel controls their safety and the safety of others on the road. The goal of this awareness month is to remind people of how the simplest task can become the most deadly.”
“Although driving seems like second nature, it’s still a skill that requires constant, complex coordination between your mind and body. Unfortunately, a moment’s lapse in attention can have tragic consequences,” stated Martha M. Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drivers continue to exhibit the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude – that needs to stop. We need to be accountable for our own actions to make Virginia’s roads safer. That’s why AAA is committed to educating drivers on the full range of distractions that can lead to crashes, from adjusting the radio or attending to children, to eating and drinking or using a mobile phone. All distractions place the driver, passengers and others on the road at risk.”