April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month
Vol.9 Issue 3
Man looking at mobile phone while driving a car

The month of April is Distracted Driver Awareness month which is defined as any kind of driving that diverts your attention from your driving. This could be talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, changing the radio station, or adjusting the temperature controls within your vehicle.

According to the National Safety Council "Driving and cell phone conversations both require a great deal of thought. When doing them at the same time, your brain is unable to do either well. For example, it’s nearly impossible to read a book and have a phone conversation. While driving, this often results in a vehicle crash due to delayed braking times and not seeing traffic signals." It also states that cell phone-related crashes are under-reported because people don’t want to get in trouble.

Texting while driving is against the law in Oklahoma. Oklahoma law requires drivers to give their full attention to the road. According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office: Texting while driving is a primary offense, which means that a law enforcement officer can pull drivers over and issue a citation solely for texting while driving for which the fine is $100.

No Distracted Driving Sign, Yellow warning sign with words Distracted Driving and accident icon with sky background

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reports that there were 7,290 crashes due to distracted driving in our state in 2020; 41 were fatal, 180 were seriously injured and 43.7% of these crashes occurred on city streets. In 2021, there were a total of 7,904 distracted driving crashes with 44 fatalities and 178 people seriously injured. Most crashes occurred within the age group of 15-29 years old.

When looking at National numbers, car crashes involving distracted driving cause thousands of injuries and deaths each year. In 2020, distracted driving caused 3,142 fatalities across the U.S. according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA).

NHTSA has a U Drive. U Text. U Pay campaign reminding drivers of the deadly dangers and the legal consequences – including fines – of texting behind the wheel. Forty-eight states, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, have passed laws making it illegal to text while driving. From April 7-11, 2023 you may notice an increase in police enforcing texting laws and reminding drivers of the dangers.

Since 2007, drivers 16 to 24 years old have been distracted by devices at higher rates than other drivers, but everyone who drives is at risk for crashing due to distracted driving. Consider these tips for safe driving:

  • If you must send or receive a text, pull over to a safe location and park your car first.
  • If you have passengers, appoint a "designated texter" to handle all your texting.
  • If you can’t resist the temptation to look at your phone, keep it in the trunk.

Additional information regarding distracted driving and related data can be found here:
National Safety Council
Oklahoma Highway Safety
Crash Data
Distracted Driving Crashes
U Drive. U Text. U Pay Campaign

Federal Aviation Aministration (FAA) seal