Northam recognizes April 2018 as Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Virginia
In 2017, 842 people were killed on the roadways of Virginia. This represents an 11% increase over the prior year. Distracted driving has been identified as a contributing factor.
Although DMV data indicates there were 208 distraction-related fatalities last year, traffic safety advocates believe these crashes are under-reported.
Experts say driver distraction is reaching epidemic levels.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that, at any given daylight moment, approximately 660,000 people across America are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. What’s worse, recent surveys have shown that drivers know distracted driving is dangerous, yet admit to doing it anyway.
To raise awareness about this pressing issue, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has signed a Proclamation Citing April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This recognition was requested by non-profit DRIVE SMART Virginia, an organization that has been tackling the issue of distracted driving for over a decade.
“With distraction-related traffic fatalities on the rise again this year, we’re asking companies, organizations, and individuals throughout Virginia to help spread the message that distracted driving is an epidemic that is killing nine and injuring more than 1,000 people each day in the United States,” said Janet Brooking, Executive Director of DRIVE SMART Virginia. “Parents need to set a better example for their kids, companies need to create and enforce stronger policies, and legislators need to strengthen our current distracted driving laws.”
DRIVE SMART has adopted several strategies to address the epidemic and calls on all citizens to help spread the word. The group further challenges citizens to take the pledge to drive distraction-free. In addition to providing a free distracted driving online toolkit that includes downloadable materials such as social media posts and graphics, the organization’s distracted driving simulator will travel the Commonwealth to reach teens and adults alike. DRIVE SMART Virginia also has free brochures and posters available to be shipped to any entity located in Virginia.
These resources can be found at drivesmartva.org.
Key partners such as the Virginia DMV Highway Safety Office, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance are also coordinating activities to raise awareness.