April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Department of Driver Services’ (DDS) Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP) is encouraging drivers and motorcyclists to steer clear of distractions and pay attention to the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) latest distracted driving report, in 2020, 3,142 people were killed and 324,652 people were injured in distraction-affected motor vehicle crashes. Defined as an any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving, distracted driving not only endangers the safety of the driver, but their passengers and bystanders on the roads as well.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates on average, nine (9) people are killed every day in distraction-affected motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The most alarming distraction trend has become cellphone-related usage while operating a vehicle. The average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five (5) seconds, the same amount of time to drive the length of a football field at 55 mph.
As the dangers of drivers using cell phones and electronic devices has remained a constant factor in distraction-affected vehicle crashes, cell phone usage made up 12% of distraction-affected crashes. Among distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes, the 15 – 20 age group comprise the largest proportion of distracted drivers in fatal crashes. The efforts to curtail distracted driving are seen in national campaigns by NHTSA such as “U. Drive. U. Text. U Pay.
The campaign recommends the following distracted driving prevention tips:
- Turn off electronic devices and avoid reaching for devices while driving.
- Be alert for pedestrians and cyclists, especially those who may themselves be distracted.
- Set a good example for young drivers and talk with teen drivers about responsible driving.
- Familiarize yourself with the state graduated driver licensing system. That information can be found on the DDS website as well as the published driver manuals available online and physical copies at customer service centers.
- Speak up when a driver uses an electronic device or not paying attention behind the wheel.
- Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the road.
Cell phones and electronic devices are not the only contributors to distracted driving. Distractions such eating or drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, using a navigation device, and adjusting the radio or climate controls.
The state of Georgia has enacted distracted driving prevention to aid in reducing fatal traffic accidents. The “Hands Free Georgia Act” law prohibits anyone from using a hand-held mobile device while operating a vehicle was enacted in 2018. Make a pledge to put down your phone while driving and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
For compete driver education and license issuance information, please visit the DDS website at dds.georgia.gov.
About Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP)
In addition to offering rider education and licensing programs, the Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP) also promotes motorist awareness programs, share the road campaigns, and is focused on highway safety issues affecting Georgia motorcyclists. The GMSP directly operates training sites throughout Georgia by providing low cost, professional training to assist riders in improving their skills through the following: All class information and registration can be found online at www.dds.georgia.gov/gmsp-riders.