This week, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is calling on drivers to eliminate distractions in the car during Heads Up Driving Week. It's a great reminder for drivers across the country to drivers to put away their distractions and remember the most important task behind the wheel -- driving safely.
Heads Up Driving Week (October 2-8) comes as the AAA Foundation released its 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index, which revealed both good and bad news.
The good news is that. today, ninety-five percent of drivers surveyed recognize that text messaging behind the wheel is a serious threat, while 88 percent feel the same way about cell phone use.
But, at the same time, 35 percent of those drivers said they have read or sent a text message while driving in the last month. And, 67 percent said they've talked on a cell phone while driving in the past month. In fact, almost a third said they do this regularly.
To me this shows that, while we've come a long way the last two and a half years in raising awareness about distracted driving, we still have a long way to go to stop it.
Almost everyone agrees that texting while driving is dangerous, yet more than a third of Americans continue to do it anyway, at great risk to themselves and those around them. That a third of respondents talk on their cell phones regularly even though they know it's dangerous is equally disappointing -- and unsafe.
But these drivers are fooling themselves. Just ask the family of Alex Brown. Ask Margay Schee's mother Elissa. Ask any of the family members who have told their painful stories on camera for our Faces of Distracted Driving series. They'll all tell you the same thing: you cannot text or talk on your phone while still driving safely. You can't do it.
We've come a long way so far. As I told the Washington Post, we've got the car companies' attention. We've got the public's attention. We've got law enforcement's attention.
But we still have a long way to go to convince people to put their cell phones and their smart phones in the glove compartment when they're driving. As AAA Foundation for Safety President Peter Kissinger said, "Changing our nation's traffic safety culture requires drivers to take responsibility for their actions and alter their own behaviors on the road."
With the help of law enforcement, safety organizations, and grassroots activists all across the country, we're going to keep fighting this fight until drivers understand that no text or call is worth the risk.
So this week and every week, when you get in your car, please remember, just one text or call, could wreck it all.