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AAA: Distracted Driving Crashes Kill 10 People per Day

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Video for Media: B-Roll

DEARBORN, Mich., (April 18, 2023) — As the pandemic comes to an end and traffic begins to pick up across the country, AAA – The Auto Club Group reminds drivers about the importance of focusing on the road ahead, and not on their smartphones, during Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • 400,000 people are injured in distraction-related crashes every year.
  • Distracted driving crashes killed 3,522 people in the United States in 2021 – an average of 10 deaths per day.
  • That number was up 12 percent from the year before (3,138 deaths in 2020).
  • In Michigan alone, there were 51 fatal crashes involving a distracted driver, resulting in 59 fatalities in 2021.
  • The true numbers are likely much higher due to underreporting.

"Distracted driving remains a growing traffic safety problem nationwide," says Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group. "Any distraction, whether it be texting or talking to a passenger, could be enough to cause a crash. AAA strongly urges drivers to focus on what's most important, which is the road in front of them."

Top 3 Risky Driver Distractions

  • Mobile phone use
  • In-vehicle technology
  • Passengers in the vehicle

Unfortunately, drivers who use their cellphones behind the wheel have chosen to ignore the dangers of driving distracted. AAA Foundation's 2021 Traffic Safety Culture Index survey found that drivers admitted to engaging in the following behaviors:

  • Thirty-three percent admitted to driving while holding and talking on a cell phone at least once in the past 30 days.
  • Almost 33% admitted to reading a text or email on a cell phone while driving.
  • And about 24% admitted to manually typing or sending a text message or email at least once in the past 30 days.

Checking your phone at a stoplight can be risky, too. AAA research found that drivers can experience a "hangover effect," where the mind stays distracted for up to 27 seconds after using smartphones or voice-to-text vehicle infotainment systems to send text messages, make phone calls or update social media.

"The bottom line is, if your mind is not focused on driving, you're unable to properly react to what's happening on the road in front of you. That puts other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians at risk," Woodland said.

House Bills 4250, HB 4251 and HB 4252 are currently pending before the Michigan House of Representatives, and would implement long-overdue improvements to Michigan's distracted driving laws. These bills cover a variety of issues, including banning the use of handheld devices beyond just texting and driving to include the use of social media, video streaming and sending or receiving calls.

"There is no doubt that these bills will help to make Michigan road's safer and decrease unnecessary traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities," said Craig Ryan, Director of Government Relations, AAA-The Auto Club Group.

AAA offers these tips to avoid distracted driving:

  • Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
  • Know where you're going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
  • Pull over. If you must call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
  • Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
  • Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
  • Don't be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
  • Activate Do Not Disturb. Setting up this feature on iPhone or Android device will prevent calls from coming in while you're driving.
  • Everyone should avoid distractions while in traffic. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.

AAA in Michigan celebrated its 100th Anniversary - A Century of Service in 2016 and has over 1.5 million members across the state. It is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG). Connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 13 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 62 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA's mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.