The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and StopDistractions.org are teaming up to combat distracted driving
The two organizations are calling on states to implement a comprehensive strategy that includes high visibility enforcement of primary texting and hand-held cellphone bans that leads to most car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and truck accidents, coupled with extensive public outreach that explains how distraction takes a driver’s eyes and mind off the road and puts others – especially people outside vehicles – at risk.
“At any given moment during the day in the United States, nearly a half a million drivers are distracted behind the wheel,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “It’s a dangerous and deadly epidemic that is responsible for eight to ten percent of all fatal car crashes, a statistic that has varied little in the past seven years. This problem demands a broad approach including engineering, technology advancements, education and equitable enforcement of strong laws.”
Crashes caused by distracted driving killed 3,142 people in the United States in 2019 – up 10% from the year before. With overall traffic fatalities surging in the first nine months of 2020 and evidence pointing to increased distracted driving during the COVID-19 pandemic, those numbers could climb even higher.
During April, many states are participating in national high visibility enforcement and public awareness campaigns such as “U Drive. U Text. U Pay,” which are shown to prompt positive behavior change. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demonstration projects conducted in the Sacramento Valley region of California and across Delaware found that observed driver use of handheld cell phones dropped by one-third following increased police enforcement of distracted driving laws and increased awareness of distracted driving using radio advertisements, news stories and other media.
GHSA joins with StopDistractions.org, which was founded by Jennifer Smith, one of the nation’s preeminent road safety advocates. Smith lost her mother in a distracted driving crash in 2008, when a driver talking on a cell phone ran a red light. She has turned her unimaginable loss into action and has helped lead efforts in numerous states to strengthen distracted driving laws.