Editorial: Let’s All JUST Drive.


Yes, it’s April Fools Day. But — aside from one video — this editorial is very real.

Woman taking selfie in car

By Alyssa Connolly, The Zebra

The Zebra team likes a good laugh. We’re big fans of office pranks, sharing hilarious videos and gifs, and of course April Fools Day. In fact, our prank from two years ago made it into TIME’s “Best April Fools Pranks” list. And here we are again! Today is April Fools Day, so naturally we wanted to pull off a lil prank of our own. Check it out here:

Hopefully we made you laugh! But now for some real talk. Today, the first day of April, means something more than jokes, pranks, and other folly. April begins Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Our video, while created with humor, is about raising awareness of a truly disturbing trend that is causing car crashes, injuries, and deaths at an alarming rate. It’s imperative — this month and beyond — that we energize the discussion and do our parts to end distracted driving.

Some stats to chew on:

  • Each day in the United States, 8 people die and 1,160 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. (Distraction.gov)
  • Approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving at any given moment throughout the day in the U.S., a number that has held steady since 2010. (NHTSA)
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting, and when traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (VTTI)

Statistics on the prevalence, impact and idiocy of distracted driving abound. (For more, see our Quoted post from last year for more: “Distracted Driving by the Numbers”.) We all need to take a moment and digest these facts, and really consider our own behaviors on the road.

A car is a two-ton weapon, if used carelessly.

Distracted driving as defined by law in many states (meaning you can get ticketed — or more — if you violate any of these), encompasses:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone (for GPS, music, SnapChat, what have you)
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
  • Even talking to passengers

We’re not saying to drive safely simply to avoid breaking the law — though it does help to know what constitutes as distracted driving where you live. And we’re not saying not to talk to your passengers (in fact, we are all for carpooling and ridesharing) or never to sip your coffee in your car. Come on, now — if you were allowed to get a driver’s license, you should be able to handle these activities without posing a threat to the lives of others. We are calling for you to stop texting and driving — though we know you’ve heard that message. But most of all, we’re pleading that you do just one simple thing when you’re driving: focus on driving.

More and more campaigns are encouraging that simple advice: rather than what not to hold, touch, talk on, play with, listen to, watch, etc., how about we all JUST DRIVE. The National Safety Council says it simply enough: the essential requirements for driving are: “Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, mind on driving.” If every time we get into a car, we think of those things and those alone, we’re doing our part.

A car is a two-ton weapon, if used carelessly. Drivers have incredible power (ahem, read: responsibility) when they’re behind the wheel. There will undoubtedly continue to be distractions: your phone, your passengers chatting with you, your pet, erratic drivers swerving between lanes, crazy weather, and even flashy billboards, among many, many others. But what is and will continue to be more important than all of those momentary distractions is your life and the lives of others in and around your car.

What Can You Do?

 

Hands free not risk free
Provided by The National Safety Council