Postponement of Distracted Driving Month due to COVID-19
April is nationally recognized as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the National Safety Council has postponed Distracted Driving Awareness Month to an undetermined date for later this year. Currently, there is less travel on the roadways due to the stay at home order put in place in the efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. Even though Distracted Driving Awareness Month has been postponed, Americans will return to the roads again and it is imperative to practice safe driving and safe riding in vehicles at all times.
In 2010, Congress designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Examples of distracted driving include talking or texting on the phone, eating or drinking, applying makeup or shaving, reading a newspaper or book, watching a video, or programming a GPS. Three categories of distracted driving exist; visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking your mind off driving). Distractions of any kind can pose a serious safety threat not only to the driver, but also to those who share the road with the driver (passengers, pedestrians, other drivers). More than 700 injury crashes involve distracted driving in the United States every day (National Safety Council, 2020). According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2,841 individuals in the United States lost their lives due to distracted driving in 2018 (1,730 were drivers, 605 were passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists).
In the program I facilitate, Protecting You, Protecting Me (PYPM), children learn ways to identify an unsafe driver and develop the skills to protect themselves from riding with- or while riding with- drivers who are not alcohol free. While PYPM curriculum provides information specific to protecting children from riding with drivers who are not alcohol free, discussion about other forms of distracted driving are also incorporated into the lessons. For all grade levels K-5, children learn the importance of following rules and laws, to not trust their lives to luck but to stop and think things through when making decisions, how to ask questions about the safety features of a vehicle, and how to talk to parents or another trusted adult and ask them what they can do when they think a driver is unsafe. Featured below is one of the Rhyme/Rap/Cheers that children in grades K&1 participate in and sing and dance along to. May this serve as a friendly reminder to always practice safe driving to protect not only ourselves, but the lives of others including those most dear to us.
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