Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus, District Attorney David Hoovler and Sheriff Carl E. DuBois, along with the Orange County STOP-DWI Program, are reminding residents that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Distracted driving is performing any activity that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, or adjusting the radio, entertainment, or navigation system. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people were killed in 2019 in distracted driving crashes, a 10 percent increase from 2018.
“We use and rely on our cell phones each day, but no call or text is that important,” Neuhaus said. “Distracted drivers are a serious threat to themselves, other motorists and pedestrians. We want all our residents and visitors to arrive to their destination safely and we urge them to put down their devices and stay focused on the road.”
The NHTSA noted that during daylight hours, approximately 481,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. That creates a potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
“If you need to make a call or answer a text, pull over to a safe place on the side of the road or turn into a parking lot,” DuBois said. “Any distraction behind the wheel increases your risk of crashing and adults should lead by example by never driving distracted. Be safe on the roads, and let those communications wait.”
The NHTSA advised to follow these safety tips while driving:
- Need to send a text? Pull over and park your car in a safe location. Only then is it safe to send or read a text.
- Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls and messages.
- Do not scroll through apps, including social media, while driving. Cell phone use can be habit-forming. If you are struggling to break the habit, put your cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
DuBois and Hoovler noted that drivers can be ticketed for writing, sending, or reading a text or electronic message while driving. Hoovler said that there is a minimum $50 fine for texting or cell phone use while driving, which goes up to as much as $450 for a third or subsequent offense committed within eighteen months. In addition, every violation carries five points against your driver’s license, out of a possible eleven points that you can get within 18 months before you lose your license.
“No text or phone call is worth your life, or anyone else’s,” Hoovler added. “Distracted driving is dangerous, so don’t text or call while you’re driving. Let your calls and texts wait until you get to your destination or find a safe place to stop to call or text, or to respond to someone else.”
For more information about distracted driving, go to: www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving.