Distracted Driving Awareness Month: NSC report highlights ‘science behind distraction,’ calls for changes

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Photo: National Safety Council

Itasca, IL — In advance of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Safety Council has released a report on the “science behind distraction” and calls on key stakeholders to make “lifesaving changes.”

The initiative – observed each April for the past decade – was postponed until October this year because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to preliminary estimates released by NSC, the rate of motor vehicle-related deaths jumped 20% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2019, despite less traffic as a result of quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Although the cause isn’t yet known, reckless behaviors such as speeding, lack of seat belt use and distracted driving “play a major role in risky roadway behavior,” NSC states in a Sept. 23 press release, adding that the report, “Understanding Driver Distraction,” reinforces the idea that completely eliminating driver use of cellphones and interactive, in-vehicle technology can help save lives.

“The research is clear – we can save lives and prevent injuries if we drive attentively and avoid distraction,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said in the release. “This October, I encourage all motorists to commit to driving attentively, particularly avoiding cellphone and in-vehicle technology that takes your hands, eyes or mind off the task of driving. Let’s all work together to keep our roads safe and just drive.”

The council is calling for a multifaceted approach that includes passing stronger laws and improving enforcement. One example: banning the use of all electronic devices, including in-vehicle infotainment systems, while driving.

NSC’s recommendations for other stakeholders:
Drivers: Avoid using cellphones, apps or in-vehicle technology unless safely parked.
Manufacturers: Design in-vehicle technology that prevents inherently distracting activities.
Employers: Enact distracted driving policies that ban all employee use of cellphones or mobile devices while driving – on and off the job – including use of hands-free and voice command systems.

Distracted Driving Awareness Month posters, videos and safety talks are available at nsc.org/justdrive.

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