A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

AAA poll reveals 92 percent of Ky drivers worried about use of electronic devices behind the wheel


As Distracted Driving Awareness Month continues, a recent AAA poll of Kentucky motorists found that 92 percent are very or somewhat concerned for their safety due to other drivers being distracted by electronic devices. Yet despite the growing concern, 80 percent say they see more drivers around them distracted by electronic devices.

The survey of 613 drivers took place March 14-15. It included men and women aged 18 to 75-plus who hold a valid driver’s license and drive a vehicle at least 20 miles a week.

To address this escalating problem, AAA chose April—National Distracted Driving Awareness Month–to launch a new, multi-year initiative that aims to prevent deaths and injuries as a result of cell phone use by drivers.

Parallels Between Texting and Drinking Behind the Wheel

“Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Don’t Drive Intexticated” is the theme of AAA’s multimedia traffic safety education campaign created to make distracted driving socially unacceptable. New public service announcements (PSAs) are designed to help audiences understand that the consequences of using a smartphone while driving are the same as drinking and driving.

The campaign targets drivers who would never consider drinking behind the wheel, yet regularly engage with mobile devices that dangerously take their eyes, hands and minds off the road.

AAA recognizes the impact of more than 50 years of public education efforts against alcohol-impaired driving. Those campaigns helped to achieve changes to alcohol-impaired driving laws, increased enforcement, and, critically, helped support a shift in public attitudes and behaviors toward drinking and driving.

Although much more still needs to be done, anti-drunk driving campaigns and related efforts have helped cut the number of alcohol-impaired crash fatalities in half since the 1980s, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“AAA has made traffic safety a priority since 1921, working to make roads, vehicles and drivers safer,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, the manager of public and government affairs at AAA Blue Grass. “The aim of AAA’s latest initiative is to change attitudes and behaviors surrounding the deadly problem of distracted driving, and we will continue this effort for years to come.”

In AAA’s survey of Kentucky motorists, 91 percent said they strongly or somewhat agreed that using a smartphone for texting, emailing and social media while behind the wheel was as dangerous as drinking and driving.

New research released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that even though 97 percent of drivers say texting/emailing while driving is a serious or very serious threat to their safety, 45 percent admit to having read a text or email while driving in the past month, and 35 percent admit to having typed one. AAA’s sobering new message makes it clear that the consequences of both alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving are the same – deaths and injuries.

AAA’s poll of Kentucky motorists also found that over two-thirds would support a tougher distracted driving law in Kentucky. Kentucky’s current ban on texting while driving does not apply to adults manually entering phone numbers or entering data into navigation systems. It also bans texting, but does not expressly prohibit use of an electronic device for browsing, social media or other functions.

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

AAA encourages all motorists to eliminate distracted driving by following these tips:

-Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.

-Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.

-Pull over. If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.

-Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.

-Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.

-Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.

-Everyone should prevent being intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.

The public is invited to take the Don’t Drive Intexticated pledge. Visit www.aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted to join this lifesaving effort.

From AAA


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