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April is ‘Distracted Driving Awareness’ month


If you’re driving down the highway, do you think there is ever a circumstance when it’s safe or smart to close your eyes for five seconds?

Of course you don’t. Keeping your eyes on the road is one of the first things we all learn about safe driving. So why would anyone ever think it is okay to text when behind the wheel, or do anything else that takes your attention from driving?

It takes about five seconds, on average, to read or send a text. Not a lot of time. But, in that span of time, with your eyes on your phone and not on the road, a vehicle traveling 55 miles per hour can travel the length of a football field. In that instant, over that distance, a life can be taken—maybe even yours. Distracted driving killed 3,477 people on America’s roads in 2015.

If you’re caught texting and driving you’ll be pulled over and ticketed because you’re putting your life and the life of others at risk. The fine for distracted driving in the State of Hawaiʻi is $297, and up to $3,000 when using an electronic device while operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). Additionally, an employer can be fined $11,000 for allowing or requiring CMV drivers to use an electronic device while driving.

We all know that the screens on our phones and tablets can sometimes seem irresistible. Most of us have been scolded for bringing a device to the dinner table, taking out a phone in the middle of a party, or checking Instagram or Facebook during an office meeting. (If you haven’t, you’re more disciplined than most.) But when you’re behind the wheel, being distracted by your phone is more than a social faux pas; it’s an invitation to a deadly disaster.

Distracted driving is also about more than just electronic diversions. It’s anything you’re doing behind the wheel that undermines safe driving, including eating and drinking, fiddling with the music or the A/C, or checking yourself out in the mirror. Recently, a driver even became distracted by her dog who was riding with her. She took her eyes off the road, crossed the center line, and crashed head-on into a sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle in Davis County, Utah.

So during April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, make a positive, lifesaving change that will make you safer year-round. Before you start the car, shut down your phone. Put it out of reach so you won’t be tempted by it. Recommit yourself to safe driving by not giving in to distraction and by focusing solely on the road. You’ll save yourself the cost of a ticket and maybe even save a life.

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