AAA, Madison County Sheriff warn of distracted driving danger

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April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and both the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and AAA are reminding motorists to be careful behind the wheel, especially now that the coronavirus vaccine is making it safer for people to travel.

The sheriff’s office will participate in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s distracted driving awareness enforcement initiative April 8-12 to seek to reduce distracted driving crashes that often result in needless death and injury.

As part of the program, the sheriff’s office will deploy dedicated traffic enforcement patrols to target motorists who commit cell phone use/texting violations in addition to other observed violations commonly associated with distracted driving.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging motorists to focus their attention on driving to help keep themselves and members of our community safe as opposed to texting.

According to AAA, having a cell phone conversation while driving can quadruple the risk of a crash, and texting while driving increases the risk by a factor of eight.

AAA says that 39% of drivers admit to reading, and 29% admit to typing on a smartphone at least once while behind the wheel within the prior month, said Patti Artessa, Regional Director for Public and Government Affairs at AAA Northeast.

A total of 110 people died in New York in distracted driving crashes in 2019, according to the NHTSA. Across the country, 3,142 people died due to distracted driving in 2019, an average of nine deaths per day. The number of deaths rose by 10% from 2018.

To avoid distracted driving:

Put your mobile device away and out of sight so that you are not tempted to use it.

If using a GPS or other navigation system, punch in the destination before you start.

Pull over to the side of the road and come to a complete stop before reading any text or taking a call.

Ask your passengers to help navigate, make a call or send a text message.

Activate the “Do Not Disturb” function on your cellphone that prevents calls from coming in when driving.

Avoid using your cell phone while walking, cycling or using the roadways alongside motor vehicles.

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