How All Road Users Can Prevent Distracted Driving

Help us promote safety and distraction-free mobility during Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Katie Mueller
April 24, 2023

Recent advances in roadway mobility have changed the way we travel, whether we’re heading to work, running daily errands or visiting loved ones. Office workers who once commuted by car may now take an e-scooter or hail a rideshare service. Instead of driving to the grocery store, many people enjoy walking to their neighborhood market. And a drive to visit a friend that once required a paper map can now be navigated with live turn-by-turn directions on a built-in screen. 

All of these advancements bring convenience, but they also carry risks for ourselves and every person driving, riding, walking or working nearby. As we adopt these changes in our communities, it is up to all of us to make safety – not just convenience – a priority. 

All Road Users are Responsible for Safety
Each time you get on or near the road, you must know and follow the traffic safety laws in your community. Can e-scooter users ride in the street? What about on the sidewalk? What is the speed limit in nearby school zones where families frequently walk? 

In addition to following basic traffic safety laws, it is crucial to avoid all forms of distraction when driving. National Safety Council analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data finds that 3,142 people died in distraction-affected crashes in 2020. This is an increase of about 1% from 3,119 deaths in 2019. 

Pedestrians and other road users, including cyclists and e-scooter riders, must also hold themselves to these standards and avoid distractions. Walking and riding while taking calls, texting or even listening to music can impact your safety and the safety of other road users. No matter how you’re travelling, your attention belongs on the road. 

The Dangers of Distraction 

Distractions on our roads are incredibly common, as are misconceptions and myths about them. Hands-free devices, for example, are sometimes viewed as a safer alternative to texting or calling behind the wheel when in reality they still create dangerous distractions. Vehicle screens and infotainment centers are also generally viewed as safe because they’re built right in to the dashboard, but these devices can take your attention the same way your cell phone does.  

In fact, plenty of other habits can be just as distracting as your phone, from eating or interacting with a passenger to staring too long at something on the side of the road. If something requires your eyes, your hands or your attention, it’s a distraction. That’s right, even if your eyes remain on the road and your hands remain on the wheel, shifting your attention can still create risks. Have you ever pulled into your driveway and thought “how did I get here?” This momentary lapse in memory is known as cognitive distraction and it’s more common than you’d think.

Distractions now join alcohol and speeding as leading factors in serious crashes. Employees on and off the job should devote their full attention to the task, whether it’s driving, walking, scooting or cycling.

Defeating Distractions and Staying Safe

While we have seen many exciting new mobility options in recent years, there has also been no shortage of distractions. These dangers can have an impact on everyone using our roads, from drivers and bicyclists to pedestrians, workers and first responders. Help us promote safety and distraction-free mobility this month during Distracted Driving Awareness Month. NSC leads this campaign each April to bring attention to the dangers of distraction and spread the message that when you’re behind the wheel, your only job is to drive. 

Join NSC in this campaign by:

Getting the facts on distracted driving
● Taking the NSC Just Drive pledge to avoid distractions
Using our #JustDrive sign to spread the word at work and in your community 

Everyone on and around the road is counting on you to help them get home safe. Visit nsc.org/JustDrive to get started.  

Katie Mueller

Katie Mueller is senior program manager II, mobility safety, in the Roadway Practice Area at the National Safety Council.

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