April is Distracted Driving Awareness month and the Vermont State Police, County Sheriffs, and local police departments are joining forces on the “Connect to Disconnect” campaign.
A distracted driver is considered to be someone that is driving while doing other activities such as texting, talking on the phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving among other things.
William Jenkins, a law enforcement liaison for the Vermont State Highway Safety Office said the driver’s main focus should be on the road.
“Put the phone down, but if you can’t resist the urge to use your phone or electronic device put it somewhere where it is not accessible like the glove box or back seat,” Jenkins said.
According to the National Safety Council, nearly 1.9 million crashes are caused by the use of a cell phone while driving.
Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting and driving.
In the event a driver does need to answer the phone Jenkins says to use hands-free technology or even have a designated person in the car to do so.
“If you are with a passenger and you can give your phone to the passenger or call them the designated texter or phone user so that if messages have to be sent you can have your passenger do it for you instead of doing it yourself,” Jenkins said.
In Vermont from 2015 to 2020 there has been a total of 1,680 crashes from distracted driving.
Those crashes include fatalities, injuries, and or property damage.
In the last year there were 193 crashes that are included with the total of 1,680.
Jenkins said studies show that being distracted while driving increases traffic.
“Your number one task while driving should be driving and really nothing else… The other thing I really like to remind people is even when you are stopped at a stop sign or a stoplight it’s still illegal to use your electronic device. People ask me well why I’m stopped. It’s because that you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times when you are behind the wheel,” Jenkins said.