Oregon OSHA Construction Depot Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

April 20, 2017

Pay attention: April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The Oregon Department of Transportation kicks of its fourth annual National Distracted Driving Awareness campaign this month with the warning that distracted driving has become an epidemic in Oregon. Every three hours someone in Oregon is injured by distracted driving.

A recent study conducted by Cambridge Mobile Telematics found that in nearly a quarter of crashes across the U.S., the driver was using a phone just before the crash occurred.

Other studies have show that many drivers will talk and text when they are alone in a vehicle, but think twice about it when they have a passenger. Yet nearly all drivers think it is dangerous to do so, passengers or not. People know that distracted driving is dangerous, but that knowledge does not always translate into practice.

ODOT, the Oregon State Police, and AAA Oregon/Idaho are emphasizing the importance of focusing on driving when you are behind the wheel.

"Our goal is to change cultural norms when it comes to distracted driving," said ODOT Director Matt Garrett. "If each of us focuses on the job of driving when we get behind the wheel, we'll save lives every year."


ODOT offers the following tips that could save your life or the life of someone you love:

Turn it off and stow it.
Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Then stow it away so that it's out of reach.
Use drive mode (similar to "airplane mode") if your phone has it.
Install an app.
Apps can help you avoid texting while driving. Go to your app store and search for "distracted driving."
Pull over.
If you need to make a call, pull over to a safe area first.
Spread the word:
"Do Not Disturb." Record a message on your phone that tells callers you are driving and will get back to them when you are off the road, or sign up for a service that offers this feature.
Use your passengers.
Ask a passenger to make the call or respond to a text for you.
X the text.
Don't ever text and drive, browse online, or read your email while driving. It is dangerous and against the law in most states. Even voice-to-text isn't risk-free.
Know the law.
Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. Oregon prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones in addition to texting.
If using a GPS device, enter your destination before you start to drive. If you prefer a map or written directions, review them in advance. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to assist you or pull over to a safe location to change your GPS or review your map/directions.
Secure your pets.
Unsecured pets can be a big distraction in the car.
Mind the kids.
Pull over to a safe place to address situations involving children in the car.
Focus on driving.
Multi-tasking behind the wheel is dangerous. Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.