In an effort to make roadways safer, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety has joined the “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” campaign sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April. “We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn’t stop most people from continuing to do it,” KOHS Director Bill Bell said in a statement.
“This effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use and other distractions while driving. We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the danger involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families, and others on the road.”
According to NHTSA, in 2009 alone, nearly 5,500 people were killed and a half million more individuals were injured in distracted driving crashes. That same year, 20 percent of injury crashes involved reports of distracted driving.
While any kind of distracted driving is bad, texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive.
The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education – the same activities that have curbed drunken driving and increased seat belt use.
“Every driver in Kentucky has a role in this effort,” Bell said. “However, we especially want to reach teen drivers because we know that statistically, the under-20 age group had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.”
To target these younger drivers, the KOHS will run public service announcements on Hulu.com and Paducah’s WPSD-TV featuring Paducah native Hillary Coltharp. Hillary lives with brain trauma sustained in 2007 due to a texting-while-driving crash.
In addition, the KOHS is encouraging schools to promote the “no texting while driving” pledge also available on the KOHS homepage.