The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has launched a campaign that aims to educate the state’s motorists on the importance of avoiding distractions.
The month of April has been designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to FLHSMV, there were 333 fatalities last year which were caused by distracted drivers, and this is the highest recorded total in the state in the past eight years.
FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes said, “When you get behind the wheel, you only have one job, and that’s to ensure you and your passengers reach your destination safely.”
Rhodes continued by stating, “More than 56,000 distracted driving crashes happened last year in Florida alone, and 75% of those crashes were caused by the driver being inattentive behind the wheel. Today and every day, pledge to drive how you would want others to drive around you and your loved ones: distraction-free.”
On average, there were over 1,000 distracted driving crashes every week across the Sunshine State last year.
Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, is reminding drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. “Focused attention on driving increases your reaction time to dangerous driving situations and keeps the ones you love safe as well as your fellow citizens,” said Spaulding.
“Distracted driving is anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving. Even the smallest tasks like talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, and fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system can result in a crash,” said Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum.
Texting while driving is an illegal and ticketable offense in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
FLHSMV recommends the following safety tips for drivers:
- If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
- Designate your passenger as your ‘designated texter.’ Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
- Do not engage in social media (scrolling or messaging) while driving.
- Activate your phone’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature, or put your cell phone in the trunk, glove compartment, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.