April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month

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A15-PIC-NeighborsA moment of distraction while driving can cause a lifetime of devastating consequences. One call can wreck it all. There is no safe way to use a cell phone while driving. Using cell phones while driving can and does cause accidents that kill people.

“When talking on a cell phone, drivers can miss seeing up to half of what’s around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians,” says the National Safety Council.

It is a myth that hands-free devises are safer. According to the National Safety Council, 80 percent of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. However, more than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer because the brain remains distracted by the conversation.

The Facts

Results from Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Study:

  • Of all the cell phone related tasks, including talking, dialing or reaching for the cell phone, texting while driving is the most dangerous.
  • A car driver talking on a cell phone is 1.3 times more likely to get into an accident.
  • A car driver dialing a cell phone is 2.8 times more likely to get into an accident than a non-distracted driver. A truck driver is 5.9 times more likely.
  • Text messaging, browsing and dialing results in the longest duration of drivers taking their eyes off the road.

According to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

Take the Challenge, Make a Pledge

In honor of Distracted Driver Awareness Month, Canyon Lake residents are asked to take the “Focused Driver Challenge” by pledging to not use their cells phones while behind the wheel, whether it’s behind the wheel of a motor vehicle or an electronic golf cart.

Everyone who takes the pledge in April at https://www.nsc.org/forms distracteddriving_pledge.aspx will be entered into a weekly drawing for NSC First Aid, CPR & AED online course; Alive at 25 Parent Program online course; a backpack full of safety items for kids; a stuffed animal donated by KidsAndCars.org.

Avoid Temptation

To avoid the temptation of using your cell phone while driving, turn if off or put it out of your reach. If you want to leave your cell phone on while driving in case of an emergency or important calls, simply set your ringtones for important incoming calls and then pull off the road to take them.

There are several cell phone apps that can be installed as well. The DriveOFF app is available on android devices. This app minimizes distraction for the driver by displaying a static screensaver and turning off all notifications on the phone when the your speed reaches 10 mph.

The Live2Txt cell phone app phone silences your phone for incoming notifications, texts and calls. When you receive a message, the app with alert the sender with a customized message that you’re unable to respond at the moment. You can also customize the app to block incoming calls and texts, only texts or only calls.

For concerned parents there is the No Text and Drive cell phone app. This app will activate when the speed reaches 10 mph. The parent section of the app allows parents to see the application usage to make sure their child is using it, and view a log of when the app was turned on and off.

California Cell Phone Law

Currently, 45 states ban text messaging for all drivers. The state of California requires drivers 18 and older to use hands-free equipment or the speaker phone function of a wireless phone while driving. Drivers under the age of 18 cannot use a wireless phone, including hands-free devises, to talk or text while driving. The only exception is in emergency situations to call the police, fire or medical authorities. Texting is prohibited regardless of the driver’s age.

Canyon Lake Cell Phone Rule

Rule GR.5.1t  prohibits the use of a wireless communication device of any kind while operating a motor or electric vehicle unless the wireless device is being used in “hands-free” mode. All drivers are prohibited from using wireless communication device to write, send or read a text-based communication while driving.

Distracted Driver Enforcement

During the month of April, local law enforcement agencies will be deploying extra traffic enforcement officers to stop distracted driving and spread the message that distracted drivers are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.

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Donna Ritchie