In 2016, there were 3,450 people killed in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Distracted driving can include anything from texting, to drinking coffee, to fidgeting with the navigation device. For the purposes of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is focusing on education and enforcement targeting texting, as texting is by far to most common form of distracted driving.
Many trucking companies have turned to technology for help. It is now a part of best practices to equip fleets with apps or devices that block drivers from mobile device distractions such as, texts, phone calls, emails, and web browsing. The fleet or safety manager can set the devices as they see fit. It is also important to explain to the drivers that this is not used to infringe on their personal space or spy on them, it is to ensure the safety of themselves, the vehicle, and other road users. An honest conversation about the benefits of such devices and the true danger of distracted driving will go a long way.
In New York State both “cell phone” and “operating motor vehicle portable electronic device” tickets are 5-point penalties. 11 points in an 18-month period will lead to a suspension of driving privileges making the penalties for mobile device distraction some of the harshest in the nation. New Jersey takes a different approach, they prefer to gradually raise the fines from between $200 and $400 for the first offense, between $400 and $600 for the second offense, and between $600 and $800 for the third offense. A third offense may also trigger a 90-day suspension and will add 3 points on the drivers record. The enforcement blitz related to Distracted Driver Awareness Month will take place from April 12-18.
When operating a motor vehicle, commercial or passenger the safe operation of that vehicle is the priority, any phone call, text message, or email alert can wait. If it absolutely can not wait, then find a safe place to pull over and park. Distracted driving is nothing to joke about or take lightly, but it is also a behavior that is easy to correct. Drive smart, be safe.