April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as, “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
“Being hands-free while driving with your phone is helpful, but the real problem is the lack of concentration drivers experience while multi-tasking and driving,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent auto insurance agency.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and it’s division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), launched a campaign aimed at educating drivers on the importance of avoiding distracted driving.
The aim of the “Put It Down,” campaign is to inform motorist of current laws against distracted driving. The FLHSMV reports on average, there were over 1,000 distracted driving accidents a week in Florida last year.
The FLHSMV also reports in 2021, distracted driving resulted in 333 fatalities across the state. That is the highest record in Florida in at least eight years. There were 56,425 distracted driving crashes with 2,723 causing bodily injury.
Below are tips from the campaign to help you and your passengers arrive safely to your destination.
Safety Tips for Driving
- If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
- Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
- Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
- Struggling to not text and drive? Activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put your cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
Put Your Phone Away or Pay
- When you get behind the wheel, be an example to your family and friends by putting your phone away. Just because other people do it doesn’t mean texting and driving is “normal” behavior.
- In 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, texting while driving is an illegal, ticketable offense. You could end up paying a hefty fine and get points on your license.
- If you see someone texting while driving, speak up. If your friend is texting while driving, tell them to stop. Listen to your passengers: If they catch you texting while driving and tell you to put your phone away, put it down.