BOISE – Don’t drive intoxicated, don’t drive “Intexticated.” That’s AAA’s safety message for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a reminder that using a mobile device behind the wheel can have the same deadly consequences as driving impaired.
“Most people would never drink and drive, but they may not realize that texting, emailing, watching a video, or using social media can also cause tunnel vision, delayed reaction time, and reduced awareness that puts lives at risk,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde. “The average text takes your eyes off the road for nearly five seconds, which at 55 mph is like traveling the length of a football field blindfolded. A lot can go wrong in a relatively short amount of time.”
According to the Idaho Transportation Department, 30 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2021, and distracted driving was a factor in 18% of the total vehicle crashes that year.
On average, 1,000 people are injured every day in distracted driving crashes nationwide.
In the latest edition of AAA’s Traffic Safety Culture Index, some drivers reported a willingness to engage in distracting behavior despite the danger involved. While 92% of survey participants said that texting, emailing, and reading on a hand-held phone is very or extremely dangerous, and 88% felt that loved ones would not approve of such activities, more than one-third of respondents admitted to doing so in the past 30 days.
Here are AAA’s tips to reduce the occurrence of “intextication” on Idaho roads:
- Turn over texting, GPS, and other responsibilities to a trusty co-pilot.
- Put your phone into airplane or “do not disturb” mode to eliminate tempting calls and notifications.
- Don’t use your phone at stop signs or stop lights. Mental distraction can linger long after your car is back in motion.
- Input GPS directions (and adjust seats and mirrors) before you hit the road.
- Be an engaged passenger. Ask drivers not to use their phones behind the wheel.
- Save emotionally-charged conversations for after you’ve reached your destination.