I was driving north on Arizona Interstate 17 in my new-to-me two-wheeler cruiser. It was early afternoon and traffic was light for Phoenix. Vehicles were coming down the ramp from Interstate 10 into the acceleration lane. Suddenly a large, black dual pickup was sliding left into the next lane – where was riding! I looked right and the driver was going merrily along, with a large cellphone plastered to his left ear, totally oblivious to other traffic around him. Fortunately the lane to my left was clear and I quickly veered left to safety.
Scenarios like this play out every day around the U.S. Often the results are disastrous. And the victims are not only motorcyclists. In addition, pedestrians, bicyclists and other motor vehicle drivers are killed or maimed due to distracted drivers. Unfortunately almost every driver and rider is guilty of driving distracted.
Don’t believe me? Have you ever made inputs to your GPS while riding your Gold Wing? Have you ever been involved in a heated discussion with your co-rider? Have you ever been lost in thought and missed a turn because of inattention? Have you used a hands-free device to answer a call while riding or driving? Ever reached for something to drink or eat while driving? These are just a few examples of the actions that can divert our attention for a few seconds from the complex task of driving a motor vehicle and can cause a collision.
April is Distracted Driving Month. Many organizations and legal jurisdictions around the U.S. have recognized that distracted driving is an epidemic and are taking action. Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona declared the fourth week of January to be Distracted Driving Awareness week in Arizona. A consortium of bicycling and health care organizations, plus several state legislators and law enforcement organizations, staged the Second Annual Arizona Distracted Driving Summit in Phoenix, Jan. 24, 2018.
A recent National Safety Council survey found that while two-thirds of drivers said another driver’s distraction has caused them to feel unsafe, just 25 percent feel their own distractions have put them or someone else at risk. (Do as I say; not as I do?)
Companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric Company are reviewing their phone use policies to reduce distracted driving incidents. PG&E, a member of the National Safety Council, is working to promote awareness of the dangers of distracted driving by encouraging the public to take the pledge to drive phone free. PG&E employees drove 151 million miles in 2016. The company has taken the pledge to reduce distracted driving by prohibiting cellphone use while driving on the job. According to the policy, employees must pull over to a safe place to take or make a call, check email or text.That’s a policy that all G WRRA Members could make their own! Char and I have both pledged not to use our cellphones while driving or riding and encourage others to do likewise. I’m proud to be a part of Team G A, helping advance the GWRRA Motorist Awareness Program. It’s gratifying to know that we are not fighting this epidemic alone. We are teamed with the National Safety Council and their partner companies like PG&E. Together, we will make a difference!
To learn more about the dangers of distracted driving and to take the pledge to drive phone free, visit the National Safety Council at www.nsc.org.
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