Driving awareness, safety should be promoted the entire year, not just April

A buzz, a ding. Look down, and in a single second, your life has just changed forever.

A buzz, a ding. Look down, and in a single second, your life has just changed forever.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and we at the Tower feel that all readers should be educated on the risks of distracted driving and how to limit distractions while driving on any road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) constitutes distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” This could be eating or drinking, talking to other passengers in the vehicle or the most prevalent: using a phone.

The Director of Public Safety in Grosse Pointe, Chief Stephen Poloni, said that there are three main types of distractions. They are visual, which is taking your eyes off the road, manual, taking your hands off the wheel and cognitive, taking your mind off what you’re doing.

“Driving is a visual task and non-driving activities that draw the driver’s eyes away from the roadway should always be avoided,” Poloni said.

In Grosse Pointe, there have been several incidents where people have veered off the roadway due to distracted driving, Poloni said.

“I believe that distracted driving is a problem in every city. Just by your personal observations, you can see that many people are on their phones while driving,” Poloni said.

According to NHTSA, driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes. 660,000 people use their phones while driving every day, and teens are the largest age group reported to be distracted at the time of deadly accidents.

In 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to NHTSA.

Some tips for preventing any form of distracted driving are to review directions before hitting the road, secure items that may move around when the car is in motion, pre set radio stations and climate control, get familiar with the vehicle features and equipment before pulling out into traffic, and finally: ask a passenger to help with activities that may be distracting.

As of 2010, Michigan law prohibits texting while driving.  For a first offense, motorists are fined $100.  Subsequent offenses cost $200, according to Poloni.

By not using your phone, you can avoid violating the law, paying fines and increased insurance rates, said Poloni.

The Tower hopes all of its readers will avert distracted driving at all costs. “Just Say No” not only applies to drugs but also to distracted driving, Poloni said.

“Just saying ‘no’ could save your life or someone else’s,” Poloni said.