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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Welcome to April! A month dedicated to the beauty of the world. With blooming flowers, a few spring showers, and days growing longer, everyone is itching to get out and breathe in the fresh air. We are slowing approaching late night summer drives and car concerts, but we must stay aware! April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, an issue that is often overlooked and obscured by driving under the influence or other irresponsible driving offenses. What many don’t realize is that driving under the influence and driving distracted sit at par with each other.

 We have all been there, a text you’ve been waiting on, looking for directions to your destination (or the closest ice cream shop), a phone call, social media notification, funny video, or any ding the magical phone makes. All these things we enjoy and need to do with our phones, but preferably done when not operating a motor vehicle. According to the Department of Transportation, 3,522 lives were lost due to distracted driving in 2021. In 2022, 3,308 lives were lost, and an estimated 290,000 individuals were injured due to distracted driving. According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management & Research’s New York State Traffic Safety Statistical Repository (TSSR), 65 distracted driving accidents occurred in Nassau County and 118 in Suffolk county in 2023.

Research found that six percent of all drivers involved in a collision were distracted by their technology. New York State is one of many that has bans on both handheld cellphone use and text messaging while driving. In a March 2024 press release from the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, 2,612 tickets were issued to distracted drivers in 2023. This could be compared to impaired driving, which had 1,249 issued tickets in 2023. The penalties of distracted driving from law enforcement are a ticket ranging from $50 to $450, up to five driver violation points, and a possible suspension or full revocation of your driver’s license.

It is important to remember that although you know what is going on in your car, other drivers do not, so anything you “need” to respond to will not slow them down, and if you’re looking down, you won’t be ready to respond to their actions. Distracted driving due to a technological device is fully avoidable and can be prevented by:

  • pulling over to answer a text message

  • having a passenger respond on your behalf

  • placing your phone in your bag, glove box, center console, backseat, or trunk while driving

  • utilize the “Do Not Disturb” feature found on some phones

This feature can inform others that you are driving or send them automated messages to prevent distractions. We all deserve to enjoy the beauty spring has to offer, so respect other drivers, respect yourself, and avoid distracted driving, happy April!

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