You know you do it. You know you shouldn’t. Think twice: In Colorado in 2015, 68 of the 546 traffic fatalities were caused by distracted drivers.

April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Would you believe it’s been 25 years since the first text message, or short message service (SMS) message, was sent? Texting was slow to grow: In 1995, the average American sent 0.4 texts per month. By the year 2000, though, Americans were averaging 35 text messages per month. Today, more than 6 billion texts messages are sent daily in the United States, and sadly, a lot of it is being done by someone behind the wheel of a vehicle. In fact, texting is now considered one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving, a fact officials hope to stress during the month of April.

Distracted Driving Awareness

The National Safety Council (NSC) has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month and will be promoting a sobering message — every year thousands of people die from distracted driving. notes:

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.

In addition to texting, other top distractions are otherwise using a cell phone or smartphone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading (including maps), using a navigation system, watching video, and adjusting the car’s sound system.

According to the most recent statistics, in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and another 431,000 people were injured in auto accidents involving distracted drivers.

Distracted Driving in Colorado

Colorado is seeing an increase in the number of traffic deaths due to it. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) notes:

In 2015, the state saw a 13 percent increase in traffic fatalities from the previous year due to distracted driving. In 2014, 59 of the 488 traffic fatalities were due to distracted driving, while in 2015, 68 of the 546 fatalities were caused by distracted drivers.

Thirty-eight percent of distracted driving crashes were caused by drivers between the ages of 21 and 34. What’s more disturbing, though, is the response to a national survey on distracted driving. When questioned, 98 percent of those surveyed said they know that distracted driving is dangerous, yet nearly 75 percent of those same people surveyed admit to having done it anyway.

Complacency Kills

Earlier this year, the National Safety Council released a survey of risky driving behavior and the results should be concerning to everyone. Eighty-five percent of those surveyed said driving is a safety concern, yet:

  • 64 percent were comfortable with speeding
  • 47 percent admitted to texting
  • 13 percent had driven while impaired by marijuana
  • 10 percent still drove after admitting they’d had too much alcohol

National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman noted:

Our complacency is killing us. Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn’t true. The U.S. lags the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities. We know what needs to be done; we just haven’t done it.

Authorities are hoping that this April, at least, the message about distracted driving will take hold and result in fewer accidents and deaths due to driver distraction.

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