Drive Smart Virginia: April marks Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distracted Driving

© Andrey Popov

Distracted driving is a problem on America’s roadways, and Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April helps highlight the issue.

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on a phone, eating or drinking, talking to people in the vehicle, or operating a radio or navigation system.

In 2017, 3,166 people were killed as a result of distracted driving and 297 people died in crashes that involved distracted teen drivers ages 15 to 19, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Each day nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes involving distracted driving.And that’s just crashes where it could be determined that a driver was distracted.

According to Drive Smart Virginia, using a handheld device while driving is a leading cause of distraction-related crashes. The organization’s message is to simply “put the phone down, and just drive.”

Preventing distracted driving is a focus for Drive Smart Virginia. According to Janet Brooking, the organization’s executive director, Drive Smart was the first in the nation to highlight its importance.

In the early 2000s a board member shared information about a distracted driving awareness event held at a workplace, hoping that Drive Smart Virginia would take the message statewide—and they did.

“That’s how we came up with Distracted Driving Awareness Day, which led to a week and now a whole month, which is recognized nationally,” Brooking explained.

It’s also how the Distracted Driving Summit got its start. The event is now in its seventh year and is highly recognized nationwide. The 2019 Annual Distracted Driving Summit will be held Sept. 26 and 27 in Roanoke. For more information, visit

Darlene Wells, executive vice president and general manager of Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. and a Drive Smart Virginia board member, knows the importance of preventing distracted driving.

“The insurance industry is feeling the effects of this problem as we continue to see claims increase due to distracted drivers,” she noted. “It’s important that every driver pay attention and keep their eyes on the road.”

Virginia offers a highway safety portal with information on moving toward zero roadway deaths. Information is available at

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