Eyes on the Road: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

By Angela Welch, Communication and Public Affairs, U.S. Army Combat Readiness CenterMarch 30, 2021

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The National Safety Council (NSC) designates April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the NSC, the traffic has dropped significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, our roads have only gotten more dangerous. Keep yourself and others around you safe by keeping your eyes on the road.

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from operating a vehicle, including using a cellphone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers and adjusting the climate controls. To help combat this growing epidemic, the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center is emphasizing the use of “Distracted Driving 101: A Study Guide to Preventable Pain, Suffering, Death and Destruction.” This exportable briefing, available for download on the USACRC website, highlights Army and DOD policy regarding the use of handheld electronic devices while driving, the myths and facts of multitasking behind the wheel, and tips to avoid distracted driving.

USACRC Command Sgt. Maj. William L. Gardner encourages Army leaders to download the briefing and share it with their Soldiers.

“The Army is not immune to distracted driving,” Gardner said. “Over the last several fiscal years, our data shows an increase in distracted driving mishaps among Soldiers. These mishaps are 100% preventable. Leaders must continue to warn their Soldiers of the potential consequences of this dangerous behavior.”

According to Walt Beckman, program manager at the USACRC, cellphone use, whether talking or texting, is the most common form of distracted driving and perhaps the most alarming.

“Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds,” Beckman said. “At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. No driver can operate a vehicle safely unless the task of driving has their full attention.”

While some believe advances in automobile technology — such as voice-activated controls, GPS navigation and integrated Bluetooth connectivity allowing hands-free phone operation — make driving safer, the NSC says the opposite is true. These devices can lead to multitasking behind the wheel, resulting in Americans operating their vehicles more distracted than ever before.

“Multitasking is a myth,” Beckman said. “Our brains cannot perform two tasks at the same time. Any non-driving activity you engage in behind the wheel increases your risk of crashing.”

Join the NSC during Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April to help make our roadways and our people safer. Whether you’re driving a forklift, semi-truck or just headed home after work, attentive driving is more important than ever. Create a distracted driving program and engage your workforce with ready-made communications and resources. Sign up now and you’ll receive access to materials as soon as they’re ready.

To download the USACRC’s distracted driving briefing, visit https://safety.army.mil//MEDIA/Exportable-Briefings. A CAC login is required.