About a decade ago, Amanda Clark made the news when she survived a terrible texting and driving accident after running a stop sign and being broadsided by another driver. Somehow, the roof stayed intact and she survived the accident with minor injuries. It seemed like Amanda had learned her lesson, writing in detail about the experience for her senior project at Oakdale High School in 2006. Over time, however, Amanda returned to her old careless ways. One year after her first accident, Clark lost control of her vehicle while texting her roommate. By the time first responders pried her from the car, she hadn’t been breathing for 20 minutes and died the next day. Amanda’s mom tells the story to anyone who will listen in order to increase distracted driving awareness.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. About 150 presentations reaching more than 5,000 students will be done this year as part of a program called Impact Teen Drivers, a collaborative effort between first responders, educators, health professionals and traffic safety advocates. Impact Teen Drivers is a non-profit started in 2007 to confront the dangers and consequences of reckless and distracted driving through a national educational program. Around this time, states were passing distracted driving laws and thereby becoming more aware of the dangers of distracted driving as they began tracking distracted driving as a contributing factor to accidents.
Distracted driving encompasses many types of distractions, but the National Safety Council wants drivers to know that cell phone use is the most dangerous form and that there is no safe way to use a cell phone while driving – even hands free. Research shows that the brain remains distracted for 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text using voice commands.
Distracted Driving Statistics:
- The likelihood of being in a car accident increases with each distraction: you are three times more likely to crash with three passengers in the car, 12 times more likely when you reach for your phone to check a text message and 16 times more likely when you respond to the text.
- Nationally, 3,154 people were killed and approximately 424,000 more were injured in car crashes involving distracted drivers in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- In 2013, 10 percent of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
- Teen drivers are more likely to be distracted than drivers of other age groups.
- Car accidents remain the number one killer of teens.
- Many states have passed distracted driving laws that allow officers to ticket drivers. Some laws are primary offense and some are secondary offence, meaning that the driver needs to be pulled over for some other reason first.
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