April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the last two years have marked the largest percentage increase of traffic fatalities in the United States in 51 years. While multiple factors contribute to traffic fatalities, the risk of distracted driving, particularly due to technology, is growing. In addition to mobile phones, more sophisticated entertainment systems and technologies such as route navigation and in-vehicle internet have led to more distraction for drivers.
NHTSA research suggests a leading risk factor for distracted driving is that particularly younger drivers consistently underestimate the extent distraction limits their ability to safely operate a vehicle. While few question the negative effects of alcohol on driver performance, many drivers fail to recognize the extent that attention to technology impairs driver ability. Studies show that distracted driving is far more prevalent than drunk driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2% of drivers admitted to driving while under the influence in the last month. In contrast, 69% of drivers admitted to using a cell phone while driving in the last month.
Federal fleet professionals have a critical role in reversing the distracted driving trend. Existing laws and regulations banning distracted driving by federal employees need to be enforced. Federal employees must be reminded that texting, emailing or engaging in any form of electronic data communication while operating a government vehicle is prohibited. Additionally, federal drivers must comply with all state and local traffic laws.
The serious consequences of distracted driving can be prevented. Please join GSA Fleet this April to promote Distracted Driver Awareness Month. The National Safety Council has created a campaign to promote Distracted Driving Awareness Month and provides materials to share. GSA Fleet will be sharing some of the materials and other safety information with federal fleet professionals throughout April. You can also participate and download materials here. GSA Fleet also offers an accredited Defensive Driving Course at no additional cost to all drivers of GSA leased vehicles.
Join us and pledge to drive distraction-free!