SILOAM SPRINGS -- The Police Department will take part in a nationwide campaign about the dangers of texting and driving through Monday, according to a news release from Capt. Derek Spicer.
This annual campaign is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's national U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement effort.
According to the NHTSA, between 2012 and 2019, 26,004 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. While fatalities from motor-vehicle crashes decreased slightly from 2018, distraction-related fatalities increased by 10%.
NHTSA also reported the number of deaths linked to driver distraction was 3,142 nationwide, or almost 9% of all fatalities in 2019. This represents a 10% increase over the year 2018, or 284 more fatalities. The distraction figure was the largest increase in causes of traffic deaths reported for 2019.
Millennials and Gen Z are the most distracted drivers, often using their cellphones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while behind the wheel.
According to NHTSA research from 2017, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007. In 2019, 9% of people killed in teen (15-19) driving crashes died when the teen drivers were distracted at the time of the crash.
Many drivers are guilty of a "double standard" when it comes to distracted driving. In its 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index, the AAA Foundation reported that while nearly 96% of drivers believed it was very or extremely dangerous to read a text or email while driving, four out of 10 drivers admitted to doing so within the previous 30 days.
The Police Department and NHTSA urge drivers to put their phones away when behind the wheel. If you need to text, pull over and do not drive while doing so. If you are the driver, follow these steps for a safe driving experience:
• If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
• Ask your passenger to be your "designated texter." Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
• Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
• Cellphone use is habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Activate your phone's "Do Not Disturb" feature, or put your phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
For more information, visit www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/distracted-driving.