April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Huntsville Police Department (HPD) is reminding drivers to take responsibility for their choices on the roads.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 3,142 people were killed in the U.S. in 2020 from distracted driving.
HPD Special Operations Division Lt. Stephen Anderson said there are four types of distractions: visual, auditory, manual and cognitive. This includes looking at something other than the road, listening to something not related to driving, operating something in addition to a vehicle or thinking about something other than driving.
Anderson said not all distracted driving is illegal, such as answering a phone call, looking out your window at a police car conducting business or changing the radio station. However, these distractions can still cause a significant threat to other drivers on the roadway.
Here are four helpful tips on how you stay safe on the road:
• Utilize the “do not disturb” or “focus” feature on your phone: Most smartphones are equipped with features to pause or silence notifications while you’re driving.
• Plan ahead: Have your route already inputted into your GPS or navigational device so you don’t fiddle with it while driving.
• Don’t wear headphones in both ears while driving: Earbuds are not only distracting but also reduce your ability to hear emergency vehicle sirens, vehicle mechanical failures or railroad crossing signals and trains.
• Pay attention: During spring and summer, more bicyclists and pedestrians are out and about. Stay aware of your surroundings and obey the posted speed limit.
Distracted driving response
Alabama state law also prohibits using a wireless telecommunication device while driving to write, send or read a text-based communication.
According to NHTSA, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. To combat the issue, officers watch for signs that someone is driving distracted, such as following a vehicle too closely, driving too slowly or drifting in and out of their travel lane
For more information about distracted driving, click here.