17:00 PM

AAA Urges Drivers to Ditch Distractions Behind the Wheel

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

AAA's Distracted Driving Fact Sheet

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 6, 2022) — April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month and AAA believes that no life is worth losing to distraction. Focused drivers can save lives and AAA is urging Tennesseans to reflect on their own driving behavior and do their part to keep everyone on our roadways safe.

Earlier this week, AAA partnered with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office and traffic safety partners across the state for Operation Hands Free, a state-wide distracted driving bus and press tour. The campaign aims to reduce distracted-driving crashes and fatalities by increasing enforcement efforts and educating citizens about the Tennessee hands-free law.

According to AAA:

  • Distractions include more than just texting and cell phone use. Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating, drinking, adjusting your gps, conversations with other passengers, cell phone use – can result in a fatal injury
  • Taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles your risk of a crash
  • Five seconds of reading an email or text is like driving across the length of a football field while blindfolded
  • Mental distractions can linger for longer than you think – up to 27 seconds after dialing, texting, or changing the radio station

"Distracted drivers kill thousands of people every year," said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. "If you're not focused on driving, you're endangering the lives of everyone on the road. Please put the phone down and eliminate any other distractions when you get behind the wheel."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • 400,000 people are injured in distraction-related crashes every year.
  • 3,138 people were killed nationwide (2020).
  • The true numbers are likely much higher due to underreporting.

Distracted driving is especially dangerous for people walking, biking or otherwise outside of a vehicle. According to NHTSA, nearly one in five distracted driving deaths were non-motorists.

Smartphone Use

Drivers that use cell phones while behind the wheel are up to four times as likely to be involved in a crash. Further, research shows that hands-free cell phones offer no significant safety benefits over handheld phones—hands-free is not risk free.

AAA research continues to reveal a strong 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude towards distracted driving and many other driving activities/behaviors. About a quarter of drivers report typing or sending a text message or email and more than 1 in 3 report reading a text or email while driving in the past month.

According to federal crash data, 12.3% of distraction-affected crashes involved confirmed use of a smartphone. This represents roughly 1% of all fatal crashes, which underscores that while smartphone use is most frequently blamed for driver distraction, there are many other causes of distraction-affected crashes.

What Can Drivers Do?

  • Fully focus on driving. Do not let anything divert your attention, actively scan the road, use your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Put aside your electronic distractions. Don't use cell phones while driving – handheld or hands-free – except in absolute emergencies. Never use text messaging, email functions, video games or the internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.
  • Make adjustments before you get underway. Address vehicle systems like your GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.
  • Ask your passengers for help with navigation or other functions, so you can focus safely on driving.
  • Pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place, if another activity demands your attention. To avoid temptation, power down or stow devices before heading out.
  • As a general rule, if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it's a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel.

Attentive Drivers Will Spot Roadside Workers and First Responders

Distracted driving also endangers the lives of AAA tow providers and other emergency responders. An average of 24 emergency responders are struck and killed by a vehicle - while working on the roadside - every year. An attentive driver is more likely to notice an emergency worker on the roadside and move over. Not only is that the law, but it saves lives.

About AAA - The Auto Club Group

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.