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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a campaign that aims to recognize the dangers of distracted driving and encourage citizens, law enforcement, and lawmakers to explore methods to eliminate this dangerous habit.

Currently 15 states prohibit drivers of all ages from using hand-held phones while driving and 38 states and the District of Columbia ban cell phone use by novice or teen drivers. 47 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging by all drivers.

Under current Virginia law, texting while driving is illegal. However, by the end of 2019 just holding your phone in your hand could be outlawed according to this article.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • About 9% of all fatal crashes in 2016 involved a distracted driver.
  • When someone sends or reads a text message, they take their eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. If you’re traveling at 55mph that’s enough time to travel the length of a football field!
  • Texting while driving makes a crash 23 times more likely! By the way, texting while stopped at a stop sign or red light counts, too.
  • Distracted driving is impaired driving. Impaired driving doesn’t only refer to a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also refers to distracted drivers!

SAFETY TIPS

Here are some tips for preventing distracted driving. Remember, no text message or phone call is more important than arriving safely at your destination.

  • If you must send or read a text, pull over or stop in a parking lot.
  • If you are a passenger and the driver appears distracted by their phone, offer to send the text or make the phone call for them.
  • Consider using a driving mode feature on your smartphone.  Some phones have a feature that detect when you are driving and block calls and texts until you arrive at your destination. They can even send an automated text that replies with a message that you will reach them when you are not driving.