In recognition of October as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, AAA East Central reminds motorists to pay attention to the road.

Distracted driving continues to be a danger to everyone on the nation’s roads. In 2018, 2,841 people died in distracted driving crashes in America, according to the latest data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). AAA East Central reminds everyone that no life is worth losing to distraction and encourages all drivers to remain focused on the road ahead to save lives.

“Some motorists may feel that with the pandemic, there’s a lower risk for crashes, but that’s not the case,” says Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs, AAA East Central. “As long as there is anyone on the road, distracted driving presents a deadly threat to both the drivers and everyone else.”

“Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” is AAA East Central’s ongoing initiative to end distracted driving. The campaign reminds drivers that the consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same — deaths and injuries that are entirely preventable. And while many may think distractions are limited to cell phones, they can also include eating, changing music, adjusting the navigation, talking to other passengers, and anything else that takes attention from driving.

Many drivers are guilty of a “double standard” when it comes to distracted driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2019 Traffic Safety Culture Index found that while 96 percent of drivers believed it was very or extremely dangerous to text or email while driving, nearly 4 out of 10 drivers admitted to doing so within the previous 30 days.

To avoid distractions while driving, the AAA East Central recommends that motorists:

• Put aside electronic distractions. Stow the smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate “do not disturb” call/text blocking features.

• Prepare for the drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road.

• Groom before leaving. Don’t use time behind the wheel to fix hair or makeup — this can be a deadly decision.

• Stay focused. Be sure to actively scan the road, use mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

• Secure any items. Properly secure items, children, and pets that can move around the vehicle and cause distractions.

• Be mindful of passengers. Enlist a passenger to help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.

• Be a good passenger. Offer to assist the driver, and don’t distract them.

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