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Distracted Driving Awareness Month 2018

 Motor vehicle fatalitites are up 6% from 2015, with more than 40,000 people killed in 2017. From cell phones to dashboard infotainment systems to evolving voice command features, all pose a threat to our safety. Just one second of your attention is all it takes to change a life forever. Share the #JustDrive message.

Thousands have Died in Crashes Involving Cell Phone Use

Many distractions exist while driving, but cell phones are a top distraction because so many drivers use them for long periods of time each day. Almost everyone has seen a driver distracted by a cell phone, but when you are the one distracted, you often don't realize that driver is you.

New technology in vehicles is causing us to become more distracted behind the wheel than ever before. Fifty-three percent of drivers believe if manufacturers put "infotainment" dashboards and hands-free technology in vehicles, they must be safe. And, with some state laws focusing on handheld bans, many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device. But in fact, these technologies distract our brains even long after you've used them.

Make no mistake: This multitasking technology is about convenience, not safety.

Impairment Begins With the First Drink

In the 1980s, the United States saw a significant reduction in alcohol-involved crashes. This was due to such strategies as lowering the legal driving limit to 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), increasing the minimum legal drinking age to 21 and instituting educational campaigns about the dangers of drinking and driving.

However, for 20 years, drivers with alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 have remained involved in one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. That's about 10,000 lives lost every year.

To reduce this toll, the National Safety Council supports:

A national campaign educating Americans on impairment beginning with the first drink

Efforts by states to lower the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration in drivers

The legal alcohol concentration limit in all states is 0.08. Research shows that for the majority of drivers, driving performance has deteriorated significantly at this level.

However, the current U.S. culture regarding driving and alcohol is not supportive of lowering driving limits for all adult drivers. And despite drivers' views of drinking and driving as a very serious threat, more than one in eight drivers admit to driving in the past year when they thought they were close to or over the legal limit.

NSC knows more must be done to educate our fellow citizens about alcohol impairment, and we believe change can happen as people know more. A strategy grounded in human behavior theory is needed to change those beliefs and ultimately influence widespread change.

Fatal Facts

Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate motor vehicle deaths dipped slightly – 1% – in 2017, claiming 40,100 lives versus the 2016 total of 40,327. The small decline is not necessarily an indication of progress, as much as a leveling off of the steepest two-year increase in more than 50 years.

The 2017 assessment is 6% higher than the number of deaths in 2015. If the estimate holds, it will be the second consecutive year that motor vehicle deaths topped 40,000.

About 4.57 million people were injured seriously enough to require medical attention in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, and costs to society totaled $413.8 billion. Both figures are about 1% lower than 2016 calculations.

"The price we are paying for mobility is 40,000 lives each year," said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. "This is a stark reminder that our complacency is killing us. The only acceptable number is zero; we need to mobilize a full court press to improve roadway safety."

Factors impacting motor vehicle fatality trends include an improved economy, which has helped fuel a 1% increase in miles driven from 2016 to 2017.


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