April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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As the National Safety Council deems April Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Mississippi Power safety officials are reminding customers to continue to use smart driving habits during each trip behind the wheel.

“Texting or emailing while driving is the main issue,” said Jared Holland, senior training instructor for the company’s driving program. “Research tells us a driver is 23 times more likely to get into an accident while surfing through cell phone data, and six times more likely to get into an accident while simply dialing a number on a cell phone.”

With that in mind, new data reveals that drivers in Mississippi are the most distracted drivers in the nation.

According to statistics released by Life360, drivers in Mississippi are engaged with their cell phones at least 2.56 times per drive, which is above the national average of 1.28.

Louisiana is second on the list, followed by Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

A survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found more than 90 percent of drivers recognized the dangers of distracted driving. The same survey also revealed 35 percent of those same drivers admitted to having read or sent a text message or email while driving in the previous month. Two-thirds of those surveyed also admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving.

“In 2015, state lawmakers passed a law making it illegal to text and drive,” Holland added. “We’re now seeing a bigger emphasis placed on educating the public on distracted driving.”

While cell phones are at the top of the distracted driving list, Holland said other distractions can also come into play while driving.

“People don’t realize a driver is blinded for two seconds making other types of adjustments like changing the car radio settings or setting the climate controls,” he said. “Other distractions include eating in the car, taking notes or thinking about daily tasks. With any distraction, your peripheral vision is diminished. We recommend keeping a four-second following distance between you and the car in front of you at all times.”

Distracted driving facts

  • Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. (National Safety Council)
  • At 55 mph, the average text takes your eyes off the road long enough to cover the length of a football field (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • 3,477 lives were lost, and 391,000 motorists were injured in 2015 due to distracted driving (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

Click here to take the National Safety Council’s Just Drive attentive driver pledge.

Read about Harvard professor’s efforts to curb distracted drivers here.