National Safety Month Focuses on Reducing Distracted Driving

June is National Safety Month, a month which highlights critical safety issues. These include distracted driving to which the National Safety Council has dedicated the fourth week in June. Distracted driving, a growing epidemic on our nation's highways, accounts for six thousand fatalities and more than 500,000 injuries every year.

Online PR News – 11-June-2010 – – HOUSTON, June 10, 2010 -- Every June, as a part of National Safety Month, the National Safety Council urges businesses to get involved with critical safety issues. Also, it gives each week of the month a specific theme to draw attention to dangers it considers especially acute. This June, Week 4 of National Safety Month, June 21-27, is dedicated to the dangers of distracted driving.

In a nation addicted to cell phones — 91 percent of Americans, or about 286 million people, own cell phones — many in the general public aren’t yet aware of the dangers of distracted driving: commonly the practice of driving while talking by cell phone or texting.

Yet a tidal wave of recent studies is documenting just how dangerous distracted driving is on the nation’s roadways. The National Safety Council points to more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific studies identifying the risks associated with cell phones while driving.

Here are some of those studies’ findings:
· A study from Virginia Tech estimates that 80 percent of crashes are related to driver inattention, and the #1 cause of driver inattention is cell phones.
· A Nationwide Insurance public opinion poll showed 81 percent of the public admit to talking on a cell phone while driving.
· The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates approximately 6,000 fatalities and 500,000 injuries occur annually as a result of distracted driving.
· A Nationwide Insurance survey found that almost 80 percent of Americans have been in a vehicle with distracted drivers and more than 40 percent have been hit or almost hit by another driver who was talking on a cell phone while driving.

The National Safety Council recommends
· Silencing your phone before you begin driving.
· Setting up a voice mail message that explains you’re on the road practicing safety to protect yourself and other drivers.
· Refrain from texting while driving. Research shows that drivers who text are eight to 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash.
· Pull over and park if a call is absolutely necessary.
· Encourage your friends and family to leave their phones out of reach while driving.

While these are important tips, it’s also important to remember that many states have moved to restrict cell phone usage while driving and in some areas of the country you may be breaking the law by using your cell phone while driving. Seven states have outright bans on using any handheld cell phone while driving (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Utah and Washington), as do the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Wireless headsets are banned for young drivers (under 18 or 21, depending on the state) in 21 states and D.C. Twenty-three states and D.C. ban text messaging for all drivers; nine other states ban it for minors and/or new drivers. And in other states, many cities are enacting laws to ban distracted driving.

Experts around the country say that the National Safety Council’s decision to highlight distracted driving during National Safety Month should help focus public attention on this dangerous practice.

“It's vital to send a clear message to all drivers that texting and cell calls are dangerous and can cause catastrophic car accidents. Then, to some extent, the public must police itself, curb those calls and ‘hang up and drive,’ ” says Jim Adler, a Houston car accident attorney.

Jim Adler of Jim S. Adler & Associates is a Houston car accident lawyer who works with outside and local counsel to litigate claims in all 50 states. Adler’s firm, Jim S. Adler & Associates, supports Safe Kids, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other safe driving campaigns. “Anyone harmed by a distracted driver -- or any driver – can obtain a free case review form on the Adler Web site to take the first step toward financial recovery,” he said.