April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

In conjunction with APD's efforts towards making driver's more aware during our Pedestrian Awareness Campaign, the month of April has been designated as Distracted Driving Awareness month.  All law enforcement agencies in the State will focus on concentrated efforts towards deterring distracted driving. 


During this month, along with increased pedestrian enforcement, officers will be looking for those who break the cell phone laws and place themselves and others in danger. The increased enforcement and education aims to persuade drivers to recognize the dangers of distracted driving and reduce the number of people impacted by this behavior.  The slogan for this campaign is - “It’s Not Worth It!”.  This theme emphasizes that a phone call or text isn’t worth a hefty fine or a collision. The current minimum ticket cost is $161, with subsequent tickets costing at least $281.

> In 2009, more than 5,400 people died in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver and about 448,000 people were injured. That’s about 15 deaths every day.


> Among those killed or injured in these crashes, nearly 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries included cell phone use as the major distraction.


> The proportion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of a fatal crash has increased from 7 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2009.


Distracted driving isn’t just cell phone use. It also includes things like texting, eating, putting on makeup, and messing with your navigation system — all of which can result in a serious accident, and in California, a serious fine. Clearly, distracted driving isn’t worth it. The call can wait. Lunch can wait. Mascara can wait. And if you need to adjust your navigation system, pull over and stop.

Why do our driving skills deteriorate so much when we do something else at the same time? In a Brain Rsearch Study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University in 2008:


"Behavioral studies have shown that engaging in a secondary task, such as talking on a cellular telephone, disrupts driving performance. This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the impact of concurrent auditory language comprehension on the brain activity associated with a simulated driving task. Participants steered a vehicle along a curving virtual road, either undisturbed or while listening to spoken sentences that they judged as true or false. The dual-task condition produced a significant deterioration in driving accuracy caused by the processing of the auditory sentences. At the same time, the parietal lobe activation associated with spatial processing in the undisturbed driving task decreased by 37% when participants concurrently listened to sentences. The findings show that language comprehension performed concurrently with driving draws mental resources away from the driving and produces deterioration in driving performance, even when it does not require holding or dialing a phone."


Take our word for it: You’re a pretty crummy driver when you’re distracted. Science says so! (And so do the casualty stats.)