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Keeping Families Safe: Distracted Driving

Woman driving car and talking on smart phoneDistracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving safely. While distracted driving is frequently associated with cell phones, distractions can include anything from eating, drinking, fiddling with the radio, chatting with passengers to searching for something inside the car.

It’s essential for the safety and well-being of passengers and pedestrians that while the engine is on, the driver is focused on the road. A person can’t safely text and drive a car at the same time.

We can all help save lives and end distracted driving by learning about and raising awareness of this issue. Remember the following tips for a safer driving experience:

  • Respond to text messages, start your navigation, and adjust vehicle controls before beginning to drive.
  • If you must answer a call, send a text or respond to an email, pull over to a safe location and place your car in park before reaching for your phone.
  • If you feel that your phone will be too much of a distraction, turn it off while driving or put it in your backseat or trunk. Remember, if the car engine is on, the phone stays off.
  • If you’re a passenger and are driving with someone who is getting distracted, speak up. Help the driver manage the phone, look up directions, answer phone calls, etc.

2021 Hands Off Law

  • Beginning January 2021, the Arizona Hands-Off Law will make it illegal to use a stand-alone electronic device while driving, unless the device is in hands-free mode.
  • Devices include cell phones, tablets, gaming, and music devices.
  • Arizona’s new statewide ban replaces 26 different local ordinances.

It will be against the law, while driving, to:

  • Hold or support a device with your body.
    • This includes, but is not limited to, your hands and perched on your shoulder.
  • Read, write, or send a message via any portable wireless communication device.
  • Scroll through social media, watch videos, record videos, or any other use of the device that causes a distraction and requires the use of your body.

You will be allowed to:

  • Engage and disengage a function on the device, such as GPS route start and answering or ending a call.
  • Talk on the portable wireless communication device with an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on the wrist to conduct a voice-based communication.
  • Use a device for navigation of the vehicle.
  • Use a device in an emergency to request help or report a crime.
  • Use voiced-based communication, such as talk to text function.
  • Swipe a phone screen to make or accept a call.
  • Talk on the phone if using an earpiece, headphone device or device worn on a wrist.
  • Use a handheld phone while stopped at a traffic light or stoplight.

How will it affect me?

Law makes texting a primary offense, allowing officers to pull over drivers for texting and driving.

A person who violates this law is subject to the following civil penalty:

  1. First violation: $75 - $149 fine.
  2. Second or subsequent violation: $150 - $250 fine.

Those who violate this law could also face a criminal penalty of up to 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine for causing a crash that results in serious injury or death.

Statistics

  • 25% of all car crashes involve some form of distraction.
  • Nearly 75% of drivers use their phones while driving.
  • 60% of cell phone use takes place behind the wheel.
  • Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, at 55 mph that equates to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
  • People who text and drive are 23 times more likely to get into a car accident.

Teen Drivers (15 to 19 Years Old)

  • More than half of teen drivers admit to using a cell phone while driving.
  • 70% of teens admit to talking on a cell phone while driving.
  • The risk of a crash involving a teen increases with each additional teen passenger in the vehicle.
  • This group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crash.
  • 9% of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were teens.
  • 3,166 people were killed in 2017 by distracted drivers; 229 of those fatalities were teens; 599 of those fatalities were nonoccupants.

Fatalities

  • Between 2012 and 2017 approximately 20,000 people have died in crashes involving a distracted driver in the United States.
  • Over the past 6 years, 9.5% of all fatal traffic collisions involved a distracted driver.
  • States with hands-free laws experience 16% fewer fatalities in traffic accidents.

Resources

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