Sheldon, Iowa — April is a popular month as “awareness months” go. April is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Iowa State Patrol Safety Education Officer Vince Kurtz says that distracted driving has been a hot topic in the news for several years, and yet, despite great outreach, distracted driving is a growing epidemic.
He says it’s believed that distracted driving is under-reported in crash statistics.
He says that up to 64-percent of all fatalities in Iowa may have been the result of distracted driving.
Kurtz says that while the big issue is texting on cell phones, it doesn’t stop there. He says the law says it’s illegal to text or use apps while driving, and it’s illegal for those under 18 to even talk on their cell phone. But practically anything can be a distraction.
He says distracted driving includes anything that takes your attention away from focusing on driving. Texting is certainly one of the most common causes of distracted driving and one of the most dangerous as it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention of the driver.
Texting while driving is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Texting and driving is now the leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers, surpassing drinking and driving, according to a study by Cohen Children’s Medical Center.
Kurtz says the harsh reality is that if you choose to drive distracted, you could change your life and the lives of others in a matter of seconds. Tragedy after tragedy shows that these actions can have deadly consequences. He says when you are driving, driving should have your full attention.