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October Is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

AAA officials are reminding motorists that October is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

In 2018, 2,841 people died in distracted driving crashes in America, according to the latest data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Some motorists may feel that with the pandemic, there’s a lower risk for crashes, but that’s not the case,” says Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs, AAA East Central. “As long as there is anyone on the road, distracted driving presents a deadly threat to both the drivers and everyone else.”

Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated. is AAA East Central’s ongoing initiative to end distracted driving. The campaign reminds drivers that the consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same – deaths and injuries that are entirely preventable.

And while many may think distractions are limited to cell phones, they can also include eating, changing music, adjusting the navigation, talking to other passengers, and anything else that takes attention from driving.

Many drivers are guilty of a “double standard” when it comes to distracted driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2019 Traffic Safety Culture Index found that while 96% of drivers believed it was very or extremely dangerous to text or email while driving, nearly 4 out of 10 drivers admitted to doing so within the previous 30 days.

To avoid distractions while driving, the AAA East Central recommends that motorists:

¯ Put aside electronic distractions. Stow a smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate “do not disturb” call/text blocking features.

¯ Prepare for a drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road.

¯ Groom before leaving the house. Don’t use time behind the wheel to fix hair or makeup.

¯ Stay focused. Be sure to actively scan the road, use mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

¯ Secure items. Properly secure items, children, and pets that can move around the vehicle and distract you.

¯ Be mindful of passengers. Enlist passengers’ help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer calls, respond to texts and program navigation.

For more information, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.

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