Distracted Driving Awareness Month observed in April

Even when you are fresh and aware and ready to meet the challenges of a new day, keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on driving. It is not safe to be talking on the phone, texting while driving, changing the radio station, correcting children in the backseat, letting something along the highway distract your attention. These are just a few of the things to consider when you climb into your vehicle and prepare to take to the highway.

Judy Hawkins, Education Supervisor at Family Recovery Center said, “Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic and the best way to eliminate distracted driving is through educating the community on the dangers it can have.”

Before you start your car, the very first thing any driver should do is set a good example for the children and other passengers: Click your seat belt. Teach children that the car can’t go until everyone is secured by a seatbelt. If you ever have been involved in a crash, you know that every loose item inside the vehicle is thrown by the force of impact.

Yes, you can say that nobody is going to tell you what to do, but think for a minute about hindsight. Do you want to find yourself in a wheelchair for the rest of your life thinking, “If I’d just clicked that seatbelt”? If you don’t want to do it for you, do it for the children in your life who depend on you. Seatbelts give you a better chance of walking away from a potentially life-threatening event.

Cell phone use and text messaging have been an issue from the start, costing lives, serious injuries and consequences to be lived with for the rest of lifetimes. If it’s really necessary to use your phone, pull safely off the thoroughfare to do so. You might also ponder, what did people do before cell phones? How necessary is immediate response? How many times has someone texted, “See you when you get here” and the person never arrived because of a crash involving cell phones or text messaging? Sometimes making people wait is not a bad thing.

If you can’t resist your ringing phone, silence it, shut it off while you are driving or lock it in the trunk until you get to your destination.

Set your radio station before you put the engine in drive. If it’s distracting, shut it off but keep your eyes on the road, alert to your surroundings. There are things you aren’t aware of that demand defensive driving. How long has that driver coming toward you been awake? Are they upset? Under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Have they just had a huge upset or argument with someone? Are they alert and aware?

Many people think that driving is a right when, in fact, it is a privilege. Along with privilege comes responsibility. The goal is for everyone to arrive safely at their destinations. Because nobody can really walk in someone else’s moccasins it’s important to try to see from their perspective, as in, “If I were that person how would I want to be treated? How would I look at this moment?” Then be kind enough to be courteous and patient, just as you would want from them.

There are moms who have mastered the technique of blocking out the bickering between their offspring in the backseat. The goal, again, is to arrive safely at the destination. If you have to say, “Don’t make me stop this car,” be prepared to follow through. What is your plan if you have to stop? Make clear that distracted driving is dangerous and unacceptable.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Drive safe. Drive defensively. Drive alert and aware. Remember, hands-free driving is not risk-free.

– Eyes on the road.

– Hands on the wheel.

– Mind on driving.

No multi-tasking while driving, advises the National Safety Council. Family Recovery Center Education Department has an Ohio Traffic Safety Grant that promotes traffic safety through partnerships with law enforcement in order to save lives and reduce injuries on Ohio’s roads.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues.

For more information, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.