CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proclaimed April as being National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is joining these efforts to educate motorists about the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone else on the road.
“We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn’t stop most people from continuing to do it,” said Bob Tipton, GHSP Director. “Our efforts are intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use and other distractions while driving. We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the danger involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families, and others on the road.”
In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. That same year, eleven percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
While anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, there is heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction: visual, manual and cognitive.
The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education – the same activities that have curbed drunk driving and increased seat belt use.
“Every driver in West Virginia has a role in this effort,” said Tipton. “However, we especially want to reach out to parents with teen drivers because we know that statistically, the under-20 age group had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.”
The GHSP’s goal with this campaign is simple: save lives by getting drivers to remember that “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.”
For more information about distracted driving, please visit www.distraction.gov. For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit www.dmv.gov/ghsp or call 304-926-2509.