Highway Safety office announces distracted driving enforcement effort in April

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From the Delaware Office of Highway Safety
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The Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) is partnering with local and state law enforcement agencies across Delaware to conduct high-visibility enforcement during April, designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Distracted driving crashes are often underreported because it is often difficult to determine the behavior that caused the accident, especially if the driver is not forthcoming.

People traveling on sales or service calls are also likely to answer phones or check Email or text messages while on the road.

But data shows that in Delaware, between 2019 and 2023, there were 9,569 crashes, 174 serious injuries, and 22 fatalities involving distracted driving on roadways. Driver inattention, distraction, or fatigue are some of the leading factors of fatal crashes in 2024, representing 29%. Distracted driving seems to be more common among 20-24-year-olds and in the 35-44 age range.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,308 deaths were linked to driver distractions in 2022. Approximately 32,000 people died in a crash involving distracted driving from 2013 – 2022.

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The highway safety office noted that texting and cell phone use have become the most prevalent reasons for distracted driving. Distractions may be visual, cognitive, or manual. Texting combines all three, causing an individual to take their eyes off the road, their mind off the task of driving, and their hands off the wheel.

The hands-free mobile device feature does not prevent distracted driving, since callers may be distracted by their conversation. Video screens and technology on newer vehicles can also be a distraction, with some drivers taking more risks, knowing their vehicles have automatic braking, lane wandering warnings, and other features.

Another concern is coming from distracted pedestrians looking at their phones, rather than focusing on oncoming traffic.

“Distracted driving poses a significant threat and can cause severe consequences. It’s important to prioritize safety by avoiding the urge to check your phone or respond to a text while driving said Sharon Bryson, director of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, “Too many lives have been lost due to distractions, and both motorists and pedestrians must remain fully alert and focused while using our roadways and sidewalks.”

The Delaware Office of Highway Safety urges drivers to put their phones away when behind the wheel.

Suggestions for drivers of work or personal vehicles.

  • Cell phone 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 until you arrive at your destination. How to turn on Do Not Disturb
  • Make sure you take care of any text messages or phone calls before you drive.
  • If you must take a phone call or text, pull over where it is safe and park your vehicle before handling your phone.
  • Listen to your passengers: If they see you texting and driving and ask you to put your phone down, put it away.
  • 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 watching videos while driving.

The highway office has also developed a new module on the Arrive Alive DE website called “Nix the Text”. To gain more information, statistics, and education on Distracted Driving, visit www.ArriveAliveDE.com/Be-Alert.

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