by Carissa Wilson, Injury Prevention Coordinator

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month – you read that right. Distracted driving has become such a problem in the United States that we have dedicated a month to spreading awareness. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 3,166 people died in car crashes involving distracted driving in 2017. Unfortunately, Idaho is not excluded from this massive safety issue. In 2015 there were 51 confirmed distracted driving fatalities in Idaho. In 2016 there were 64. That's a 25% increase in one year.

Idaho recently started promoting a campaign called SHIFT. It focuses on shifting our behavior, our focus, our thinking, and our culture when it comes to distracted driving. SHIFT's website shares motivating stories encouraging people to be leaders when it comes to promoting engaged driving. Distracted driving is an issue that can only be solved by individuals who choose to make responsible choices consistently. Here are some ideas to help making those choices easier:

  1. Keep your phone out of your reach.
  2. Avoid eating, putting on makeup, reaching for moving objects, or doing anything that takes your hands off of the wheel.
  3. If you are drowsy, pull off the road.
  4. If a child needs your attention, safely pull off the road to care for them.
  5. Make sure the passengers in your car are whiling to help you stay focused and don’t cause distractions.
  6. Check to see if your phone has a "do not disturb while driving" mode. If not, download an app like AT&T's DriveMode which keeps your phone from being a distraction while driving.

The decisions we make while driving affect not only us as drivers, but the passengers we have and those who are driving around us as well. We can make our roads safer by making engaged driving a top priority.