October is National Distracted Driving Awareness month, and the AAA is urging drivers to think before glancing at their phone while behind the wheel.

“Nationwide, nearly 3,000 people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, contributing to the 36,560 lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways in 2018,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA - The Auto Club Group. “There is no excuse for being distracted behind the wheel when injuring or killing someone is the potential cost.”

Distractions include more than texting. Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation or picking your next podcast, talking to other passengers or talking or texting on the phone—can result in a fatal injury.

Despite what some drivers may think, hands-free is not risk-free. Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind is focused on the drive.


Sobering Statistics


Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.

Five seconds of reading an email or text is equivalent to driving across a football field while blindfolded.

Mental distractions last longer than you think and can cause a dangerous crash or fatality. Mental distraction can last up to 27 seconds after dialing, texting or changing the radio station.

New teen drivers are 3 times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. Tennessee has a graduated driver licensing system to help teen drivers gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions. 

AAA’s Top Tips to Avoid Distractions While Driving 

Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And please, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.

Disable or stow electronics. Never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.

Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.

Take the pledge to drive distraction free or learn more about distracted driving at aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted. 


Tennessee’s “Hands Free” Law 


Tennessee’s “Hands Free” Law took effect on July 1, 2019, and prohibits hand-held cell phone or mobile device use for all drivers. Violation of the law is a Class C misdemeanor and will cost you a $50 fine for the first offense.

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