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April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month; buckle up, put down phone when behind the wheel


In honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) is partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to drive home a life-saving message for all motorists – buckle up and put the phone down.

“This past year has reminded us that small actions can have a positive impact on our safety and health,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “As Kentuckians continue to come together to battle COVID-19, we’re asking for the same dedication to safety each and every time you enter a vehicle.”

Kentucky’s Buckle Up/Phone Down campaign features videos, radio spots and digital advertising that will run throughout the month.

“Preventable deaths are the hardest ones to accept,” said Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray. “By committing to two simple yet critical actions, we can prevent crashes, the severity of injuries and the number of deaths on our roadways.”

While anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, texting and the use of phone while driving is especially risky because it combines all three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive.

“If you must use your phone, safe practices like waiting to text or post until you parked off the roadway or having your passenger give you driving directions can reduce the risk of preventable crashes,” said KYTC State Highway Engineer James Ballinger. “Texting and driving is illegal for all motorists, but we want people to stop because it’s the right choice, not just because it’s the law.”

Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads. According to KOHS, each year in Kentucky, distracted driving results in more than 50,000 crashes, more than 15,000 injuries and approximately 200 deaths.

Ballinger realizes the temptation to interact with the phone while driving may be difficult to ignore, so drivers should be prepared for a safe journey before getting in the vehicle.

“Pre-enter your destination in navigation, utilize your phone’s Do Not Disturb option, put your phone in the glove compartment or give it to your passenger,” said Ballinger. “When you get behind the wheel, putting away your phone should be as automatic as putting on your seat belt.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a seat belt gives motorists the best chance of preventing injury or death if involved in a crash. Properly fastened seat belts contact the strongest parts of the body, such as the chest, hips and shoulders. A seat belt spreads the force of a crash over a wide area of the body, putting less stress on any one part, and allows the body to slow down with the crash, extending the time when the crash forces are felt by the occupant.

“Sometimes even the most attentive drivers are involved in a crash caused by other drivers,” said Ballinger. “That is why wearing your seat belt is the best defense against serious injuries and death.”

According to KOHS, each year in Kentucky, more than half of those killed in motor vehicles are not wearing a seat belt.

From Kentucky Office of Highway Safety


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