National Teen Driver Safety Week (Day 2) – Public awareness campaigns needed to highlight the dangers of distracted driving
This week is National Teen Driver safety week, and our youngest and most novice drivers are at greater risk of injury and death from unsafe and distracted driving. There are many stats related to teen driver accident rates. One of the most shocking is that sixteen-year-olds are involved in more than five times as many fatal crashes per mile driven as adults.
What is “Distracted Driving”?
While the ABI doesn’t have a strict definition for “distracted driving” they imply that it includes driving drowsy, talking on the phone or texting while driving, speeding or being aggressive, and basically not paying attention to the road. This is a pretty broad array of behaviors but the popularity of cell phones over the two decades and the increase in road rage certainly helped the rate of “distracted driving” fatalities shoot up.
As text messaging and cellphone addiction increases, and the availability and variety of in-car gadgets continues to grow, the potential for distracting drivers long enough to reduce reaction time and rob drivers of that critical second or two that could mean the difference between accident avoidance or tragedy.
Improving Public Awareness
Public awareness of distracted driving is gaining momentum thanks to the efforts of driver safety groups, municipal governments, the Ad Council, and the recent debate on Capitol Hill that resulted in President Obama placing a ban on all text messaging while operating a government vehicle or while operating a vehicle while on government business.
Private insurance companies as well as trade organizations are also getting involved in improving teen driver safety. The Century Council has created this excellent distracted driving poster (which you can download from their site.)
The Century Council has also created an excellent online e-card and game called “The Concentration Game” that demonstrates to driver the impact of distractions on a seemingly simple navigation task like driving home from the store. As you try to solve the maze, your concentration is broken by unexpected distractions. This is a good one to share with your family and friends.
…according to a 2006 Star Tribune article, crashes have dropped nearly 25% since the campaign began and phone surveys found that 73% said they were more aware of the risks of distracted driving. Other states have adapted the billboards and the campaign has even been included in a recent marketing textbook.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about distracted driving, and go over an interesting public opinion study that sheds some light on one of the biggest perceived driver distraction threats that we have not yet mentioned!
Public Awareness Resources for today:
- Safe Communities of Wright County — Safe Communities of Wright County (SCWC) is working to change the odds of crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities. Since its inception in 1997, it has sponsored innovative traffic safety initiatives throughout Wright County and its efforts are being felt for each citizen and driver who passes through. Severe injury and fatality rates have dropped 34 percent since 1997. That statistic has remained constant despite Wright County being identified as one of the fastest growing counties in the Unites States.
- Century Council Teen Drivers Initiative — As part of our involvement with teen driver safety, The Century Council has produced an interactive initiative called The Concentration Game which mimics distractions a driver may face. We encourage you to play the initiative and embed it on your website. Additionally, if you are a motor vehicle administrator or professional driving instructor and would like to download a poster to display in your place of business as a reminder to not drive distracted.
- Join the Driver Distraction Group at LinkedIn — a professional group of legistlative, legal, enforcement, engineering, sales and human factors people who discuss issues related to driver distraction study and mitigation.
If you know of any other related public awareness campaigns, please post a link and short description to their website in the comments section.