April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and one type of distraction in particular bears repeated focus: cellphone use behind the wheel.

Cellphones have changed the culture of society. They’ve led to massive shifts in not only how we interact with others, but also how we behave behind the wheel. Traffic safety has become the foremost casualty of increasing cellphone use.

Public perception has yet to catch up to the reality of how much harm cellphones cause on our nation’s roads. By their very nature, cellphones offer mobility, convenience and connectedness – but combine that with the sheer amount of time Americans spend driving, plus our tendencies toward efficiency and multitasking, and you have a deadly recipe indeed.

An alarming trend

The data paints a grim picture of the death toll. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities have been steadily increasing since 2012. On average, a quarter of all traffic fatalities involve cellphone use.

Despite ongoing public safety campaigns, cellphone use while driving has been on the rise so far in 2018, with one source estimating that 60 percent of all drivers use their phones behind the wheel daily. Drivers who are habitually on their phones take their eyes off the road for nearly four minutes out of every hour – the equivalent of driving 42 football fields blind.

Texting while driving is especially dangerous for teen drivers, who lack the judgment and reaction time of more experienced drivers. It’s the single leading cause of death among teenagers.

Be a part of the solution, not the problem

If you’re like many drivers, it’s easy to overestimate your ability to multitask behind the wheel. All it takes is one second – the blink of an eye – for life to change forever.

Don’t create the next victim, and don’t become one yourself. Put the phone down when you’re driving. It’s that simple.

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