As National Distracted Driving Awareness Month begins, AAA Northern New England is launching a new, multi-year initiative that aims to reduce deaths and injuries as a result of cell phone use by drivers.
“Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Don’t Drive Intexticated” is the theme of AAA’s multimedia traffic safety education campaign created to make distracted driving socially unacceptable. New public service announcements (PSAs) are designed to help audiences understand that the consequences of using a smartphone while driving are the same as drinking and driving. The campaign targets drivers who would never consider drinking a beer behind the wheel, and yet, regularly engage with mobile devices that dangerously take their eyes, hands and minds off the road.
AAA Northern New England recognizes the impact that more than 50 years of public education efforts against alcohol-impaired driving have had across the country. Those campaigns helped to achieve changes to alcohol-impaired driving laws, increased enforcement, and, critically, a shift in public attitudes and behaviors toward drinking and driving. Although much more still needs to be done, anti-drunk driving campaigns and related efforts have helped cut the number of alcohol-impaired crash fatalities in half since the 1980s, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“AAA has made traffic safety a priority since 1921, working to make roads, vehicles and drivers safer,” said Pat Moody, director of public affairs for AAA Northern New England. “Through this latest initiative, AAA NNE is committed to changing attitudes and behaviors surrounding the deadly problem of distracted driving, and we will continue this effort for years to come.”
New research released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that even though 97 percent of drivers say texting/emailing while driving is a serious or very serious threat to their safety, 45 percent admit to having read a text or email while driving in the past month, and 35 percent admit to having typed one. AAA’s sobering new message makes it clear that the consequences of both alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving are the same – deaths and injuries.
Campaign messages will appear as public service announcements, on social media, at special events, in the AAA member magazine, and in AAA branches. The messages will also be incorporated into continuing AAA traffic safety programs offered in local communities.
Distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 each day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities behind speeding and driving under the influence.* And these numbers likely underestimate the problem because most drivers do not admit to distracting cell phone use after a crash. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has conducted numerous studies regarding distracted driving that demonstrate:
Drivers interacting with cell phones to perform tasks like texting or surfing the Internet are two to eight times more likely to be involved in a crash.
Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of being involved in a crash.
59 percent of all teen crashes involve some form of driver inattention, and 12 percent of teen crashes involve cell phone use.
AAA encourages all motorists to eliminate distracted driving by following these tips:
Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
Pull over. If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
Everyone should prevent being intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services. Operating 19 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Today, AAA members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip-planning services, and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available by visiting www.AAA.com. For more information visit AAA.com/DontDriveDistracted.