MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WRBL) — In honor of Driver Awareness Month, ALEA is sharing various tips for drivers of all ages, parents of driving teens, and passengers for preventing distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s newest distracted driving report, in 2020, 3,142 died, and 324,652 were injured in distracted driving-related motor vehicle crashes nationwide.

Although drivers can easily be distracted by multiple things, ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor says cellphones are the most concerning issue contributing to distracted driving.

“Distracted driving is defined as an any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. It not only endangers the safety of the driver and passengers within a particular vehicle but also puts the lives of other motorists in harm’s way,” said Taylor. “While there are a number of activities that could divert a driver’s attention from the road, the most alarming distractive trend has become the use of cell phones and other smart devices while operating a vehicle.”

In Alabama, ALEA reported a total of 1,844 crashes occurred due to distracted driving by using a cell phone in 2020 and 1,972 crashes in 2019.

Under current Alabama law, texting while driving is illegal and as mentioned earlier, drivers can easily get distracted by things besides a cellphone; which is why ALEA is urging motorists to “avoid eating, drinking, talking to passengers, self grooming, applying makeup, using a GPS device, and adjusting radios or climate controls” while driving, since these distractive activities can lead to crashes.

ALEA provided the following distracted driving prevention tips:

Drivers –

  • Put aside your electronic distractions. Do not use or reach for devices while driving. Putting phones on “do not disturb” mode can help remove the temptation to browse online at a red light or respond right away to a text message.
  • Avoid multitasking. Anything that occupies your mind or vision can be a distraction behind the wheel. Make time at home to eat meals or put on makeup, so you can focus on the road.
  • Plan your route before you go. Programming your navigation system while you drive can take your eyes off the road. It is better to ask a passenger to do it or to enter your destination before you leave home.
  • Be alert for pedestrians and cyclists, especially those who may themselves be distracted.

Parents –

  • Set a good example for young drivers and talk with teen drivers about responsible driving.
  • Familiarize yourself with the state’s Graduated Driver License Law (GDL). That information can be found on ALEA’s website.
  • Keep kids and pets safe. Make sure kids are in proper car seats and that pets stay secured in their zone in the back of your vehicle. It can also help reduce distractions if pets are not roaming about the car.

Passengers –

  • Speak up. If you see someone texting or otherwise driving while distracted, say something and let them know that you are not comfortable with that behavior. Encourage your children to do the same when they are passengers in a friend’s car. It could save a life.
  • Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the road.