LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Distracted driving crashes killed 3,522 people in the United States in 2021, for an average of 10 deaths per day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
That number represented an increase of 12% nationally from the number of deaths the previous year.
In addition, NHTSA said that 400,000 people are injured in distraction related crashes every year.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and AAA is reminding drivers about the severity of not keeping your eyes on the road.
“Distracted driving remains a growing traffic safety problem nationwide,” says Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group.
Top 3 Risky Driver Distractions
- Mobile phone use
- In-vehicle technology
- Passengers in the vehicle
In Michigan alone, there were 51 fatal crashes involving a distracted driver, resulting in 59 fatalities in 2021, NHTSA said.
Official say the true numbers are likely much higher due to underreporting.
“Any distraction, whether it be texting or talking to a passenger, could be enough to cause a crash. AAA strongly urges drivers to focus on what’s most important, which is the road in front of them,” said Woodland.
A survey done by AAA asked drivers what driving distraction they used the most. Thirty-three percent admitted to driving while holding and talking on a cell phone at least once in the past 30 days.
AAA offers these tips to avoid distracted driving:
- Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
- Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
- Pull over. If you must call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
- Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
- Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
- Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
- Activate Do Not Disturb. Setting up this feature on iPhone or Android device will prevent calls from coming in while you’re driving.
- Everyone should avoid distractions while in traffic. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.
Multiple bills are currently pending in the Michigan House that are aimed to help reduce distracted driving, particularly in work zones.
“There is no doubt that these bills will help to make Michigan road’s safer and decrease unnecessary traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities,” said Craig Ryan, Director of Government Relations, AAA-The Auto Club Group.