During National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in October, AAA Hawaii reminds everyone that no life is worth losing to distraction and encourages all drivers to remain focused on the road ahead to save lives.
“Nationwide, nearly 3,000 people were killed in traffic crashes involving a distracted driver, contributing to the 36,560 lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways in 2018,” said AAA Hawaii General Manager Liane Sumida. “There is no text message worth reading or sending when injuring or killing someone is the potential cost.”
“Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” is the tagline for AAA’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.
Distractions include more than texting. Anything that diverts attention from driving – such as eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, changing music, picking a podcast, talking to other passengers, or talking on the phone – can result in a fatal crash, according to AAA research. “Despite what some drivers think, hands-free devices are not risk-free,” said Sumida. “Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind is focused on the drive ahead.”
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 percent 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, AAA Hawaii recommends drivers:
- Put aside electronic distractions. Never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate “do not disturb” call/text blocking features.
- Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And please, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
- Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.
In Hawaii and all but two states, texting while driving is an illegal, ticketable offense. And in Hawaii, using a handheld cellphone for any reason while driving is also illegal.
For more information, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted .