14 of the Best Organizations Fighting Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is responsible for thousands of deaths on the road each year. While every driver is at risk for distractions, newly licensed drivers are extremely vulnerable to the dangers that distractions pose. Whether a teen is reading a text, looking at a GPS or adjusting climate control, any task that takes attention from the road is a form of distracted driving.
Every state’s laws handle distracted driving differently, but as the crashes related to distractions mount, more legislators are beginning to take serious notice of the risks, liabilities and sometimes fatal consequences. The Colorado Department of Transportation notes that distracted driving results in 40 crashes each day in the state of Colorado alone. Representative Mike Foote is looking to change those statistics in his state by eliminating at least one distraction in the car—texting.
Foote is sponsoring a bill to require all cell phone carriers to disable a phone’s texting capabilities while on the road. While both cell phone carriers and software programs (like Apple’s iOS11) offer functions that allow the phone to be disabled while driving, using these functions isn’t a requirement. However, Foote’s bill would put the onus on the cell phone carriers in the state of Colorado to ensure every phone is armed with an option to disable texting capabilities.
Other states have responded to the distracted driving epidemic by increasing punishments for distracted driving violations. While some states slap drivers with a small fine for texting and driving or other distracted behaviors, Alaska and Utah both carry hefty fines for cell phone offenses. In Alaska, the maximum fine is $10,000 and up to a year in jail.
However, for many states, the focus on cell phone and texting laws focuses on young drivers. Missouri and Arizona have a “texting ban” for new drivers. And Connecticut bans “drivers under 18 from using a mobile phone while the vehicle is moving.”
As the laws continue to adapt for the omnipresent lure of technology in the car, businesses, non-profit groups and other organizations also are doing their part to educate teens about distracted driving. It takes a village to create change, and while responsibility must begin at home (check out Focus by TeenDrive to get started!), these organizations are leading the charge to help educate teens and their parents about the dangers of distracted driving:
Cell phone carrier AT&T created the “It Can Wait” campaign, which encourages teens to take the pledge to not use their phone while driving. The company also offers DriveMode®, a feature that allows the phone to be disabled once a car hits 25 miles per hour.
End Distracted Driving is sponsored by The Casey Feldman Foundation, which is named in honor of college senior Casey Feldman who died when she was hit in a crosswalk by a distracted driver. EndDD provides resources for schools and the workplace to help educate drivers about distracted driving. EndDD also provides a printable Family Safe Driver Agreement.
Sponsored by the Nikki Kellenyi Foundation, PADD aims to educate on the dangers of distracted driving “through public awareness and education and to aid the families of victims affected by distracted driving.” PADD also offers “Do Not Text and Drive” signs for neighborhoods and provides parents with resources for New Jersey’s Graduated Driver License program.
Teens in the Driver Seat is a peer-to-peer driving safety program available in California, Georgia, Nebraska and Texas high schools. The program was started by Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Youth Transportation Safety (YTS) Program. Teens in the Driver Seat is led by a team of students at each school, and the program also provides resources and information for parents.
Started by Jacy Good and Steve Johnson, Hang Up and Drive aims to advocate for “phone-free roads.” Good is a survivor of a distracted driving crash that left her in a coma and with lifelong reminders of the crash—including minor cognitive issues. Good and Johnson share the message of cell phone dangers in speaking engagements for high schools, universities and in the workplace. Hang Up and Drive also endorses the LifeSaver app to help curb distracted driving.
Hands Free America, Inc was created by CEO Joey L. Eddins after a terrible car crash sent her to the emergency room, hours after she had just left to take her daughter home. While crossing an intersection, a driver had hit them while texting and driving. Since then, the family has been committed to their mission: “Our mission is to spread awareness on the dangers of distracted driving, help improve distracted driving laws, and help the victims of distracted drivers.”
The Arrive Alive Tour focuses on both texting and driving and drinking and driving. The tour is backed by UNITE and offers simulations for drivers to truly understand how texting (or drinking) affects their actions behind the wheel.
Utah hosted its own resistance in the Resist the Urge to Text and Drive campaign. Participants could sign up to take the pledge and then earn points for prizes as they completed different missions in the battle to become a master of the resistance. The program/campaign was sponsored by Zero Fatalities Utah.
Drop it and Drive
To encourage drivers to put down their devices, Canada’s Traffic Injury Research Foundation sponsors Drop it and Drive. The program offers seminars for both schools and the workplace and is “focused on preventing distraction-related road user fatalities and injuries.”
Impact Teen Drivers was started by Jon Hamm, CEO for the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, in response to the number of accidents that officers were witnessing among young drivers. The organization provides resources for schools and parents about distracted driving, including workshops and presentations. Impact Teen Drivers message for young drivers is: “Focus on the road ahead and get to where you are going safely.”
A non-profit organization, We Save Lives educates about the dangers of driving while distracted or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The organization encourages individuals to take a safety pledge and to share their story to help serve as a reminder that “we are more than just a statistic.”
Named in honor of Abigail Gracen Bacho, Abby’s Angels Foundation provides school supplies to children in need and also spreads the message of safe driving for teens. Abby loved school and passed away on Christmas after her family’s car was hit by a teen driver. The Foundation sponsors a Teen Vehicle Operations Course (TVOC) called Fear this 4 Life that is instructed by police officers and helps teens gain better knowledge behind the wheel and avoid accidents.
FADD was started after family member and friend Grant Pyle was paralyzed from a crash caused by a distracted driver. FADD encourages teens and all drivers to take the pledge to not text and drive.
Mitchel Kiefer was killed in a crash that was caused by a driver who was distracted. The Foundation seeks to educate through awareness efforts, supports policies that help end distracted driving and also supports technology that also helps curb the trend.
These are just a few of the many organizations fighting to end distractions on the road. In addition to nonprofits and corporations, government agencies also seek to raise awareness about the dangerous trend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the source for all the most up-to-date statistics and facts on distracted driving in the United States.
The NHTSA encourages all drivers to take the pledge to refrain from texting and driving and also serves as the sponsor for the Ad Council’s “Stop the texts, stop the wrecks” campaign.
Every driver has the opportunity to positively impact safety on the road. Every parent must teach young drivers that distractions kill. Pledge to put down the device or use apps to disable the phone while on the road. Take the message into your own hands and teach novice drivers that distracted driving is deadly driving. A text or phone call is not worth being dead on arrival.