According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2011, 3,331 people were killed in vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, with an additional 387,000 people that were injured. Some other distracted driving-related statistics include:
- Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)
- Sending or receiving a text takes the driver’s eyes away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field at 55mph, blind. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)
- Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. (Carnegie Mellon)
Beginning in 2007, a group of professionals belonging to the Lincoln-Omaha-Council Bluffs Association of Transportation Engineers (LOCATE) embarked on a campaign to “make a difference” in their respective communities. The group reached out to high school students in an effort to educate them on the dangers related to distracted driving. To date, this group of volunteers has made more than 65 school visits. They have spoken to more than 5,000 students who are either starting to drive or will be soon, by obtaining their learner’s permit or driver’s license. Based on feedback from teachers and students at these schools, it is believed that the “make a difference” campaign is a positively impacting the choices that these young adults are making when they get behind the wheel of an automobile.
Traffic and transportation engineers play a key role in keeping our streets and highways safe. However, many traffic crashes are preventable and occur due to poor choices or decisions by the driver. Therefore, engineers need the cooperation of the driving public to maximize the safety of roads we all travel on.
Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, states:
“The safest way to get from one place to another is to hang up your cell phone and drive. Powering down your cell phone when you’re behind the wheel can save lives, maybe even your own.”
The fight to end distracted driving starts with you. Make the commitment to drive phone free today.