Distracted driving is a lethal epidemic on America’s roadways. It surrounds us as we drive to work or take our children to school.
Every day, we see motorists texting, adjusting a GPS, talking on a Bluetooth, or even watching television behind the wheel. Recently, it’s reached frightening levels--in 2015 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration counted 3,477 fatalities caused by distracted driving. It’s almost become a part of our culture: honking at an inattentive driver who is busy checking their phone. But, I am more aware of this problem than most.
As national chairwoman of the Safety & Security Council at National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC), I’m proud to be a part of America’s tank truck industry. The most important aspect of my job is getting people back home safely to their families every night. A truck driver’s office is the highway, so we have more of a vested interest in eliminating distracted driving than any other driver.
Federal laws already prohibit truck drivers from texting while driving, and most trucking companies will terminate employees who are caught in violation of this regulation. The trucking world knows the dangers on the road, and we’ve taken steps to fight against them.
But the NTTC doesn’t think that’s enough. We want to end distracted driving in all vehicles. So, we’re taking on this problem in our own neighborhoods and with our own families.
I’m proud to announce a new safety initiative: NTTC’s Zero Distractions Campaign. Because When You Drive Distracted, We Are All Impacted. This multi-faceted campaign will educate every type of driver--from our company’s newest truck driver to driver’s education programs for teens.
For years, NTTC worked diligently to prevent distracted driving in trucking. And now we’re working to find ways that we can be a part of the solution in passenger vehicles.
Passenger vehicles make up the vast majority of cars on the road. According to NHTSA figures, they represented 89% of the 2,478,092 reported traffic crashes in 2015. Distracted driving puts every driver on the road at risk. To put things into perspective, here are a few statistics:
• At any given moment, 660,000 drivers are using an electronic device on US roads.
• A driver who is texting is over 23 times more likely to have an accident than an active and attentive driver. (For reference, drunk drivers are 10 times more likely to have an accident. That means that texting while driving is almost 2.5 times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.)
• In 2015, distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives, and injured 391,000.
Something must change. The cost of distracted driving--in dollars and in lives destroyed--has become too high. Last year’s Professional Tank Truck Driver of the Year, Todd Stine of Carbon Express, works tirelessly to educate Americans about the dangers of distracted driving. Todd chose to focus on this issue because he feels it is the single greatest threat to safety on our roadways today.
As Chairwoman of NTTC’s Safety & Security Council, I could not agree more. That’s why we created the Zero Distractions Campaign--because we want to see every driver, whether they’re in a tank truck or a passenger vehicle, get home safely to their family.
Safe driving is vital to our nation’s future--so we are planning to share this critical campaign from coast to coast. Our mission is to save lives, and to eliminate the distracted driving epidemic on our nation’s roadways.
To help us reach that goal, we welcome the support and participation of automobile manufacturers, cellular and wireless companies, other trucking and commercial motor vehicle associations, driving safety organizations, middle and high schools, colleges and universities, and any other group that wants to join us in NTTC’s Zero Distractions campaign.
We also encourage individual citizens to partner with us--we need your help to make this campaign a success. We need your commitment to be part of the solution--and there are a number of things you can do to stand beside us in the fight against distracted driving.
You can take the NTTC Zero Distractions Pledge, available on our website ZeroDistractions.org, and vow that you will not drive distracted. You can also share the link to the Pledge over social media--spreading this critical message to your friends and family, and encouraging them to join the campaign, too.
Once you sign our Pledge online, you will also be asked to sign the NTTC Zero Distractions Nationwide Petition. With your signature, you’ll stand beside NTTC in our call for legislators to make distracted driving illegal in each and every state. We also need you to contact your elected officials directly! They need to know that you stand behind this campaign’s powerful message: When You Drive Distracted, We Are All Impacted. As a constituent, your voice can play a powerful role in making distracted driving illegal in your state.
At NTTC, we want to end distracted driving on our roads. I hope that you’ll join us. Together, we can save lives and achieve an America with Zero Distractions on the road. For more information on NTTC’s Zero Distractions Campaign, contact Tracy Henke ([email protected]).
Candi Coate is the vice-president of Safety & Regulatory Compliance at K-Limited Carrier, Toledo OH, a nationally recognized liquid bulk carrier company. She also served as the 2017-2018 national chairwoman of the NTTC’s Safety & Security Council.