AAA Michigan is offering tips on how to avoid unsafe distracted driving behaviors while on the roadway.

AAA is urging drivers to put down their phone and avoid distractions when behind the wheel as part of a campaign that highlights April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. AAA Spokesperson Adrienne Woodland says distracted driving is any task that requires a motorist taking their eyes or attention off the roadway and hands off the wheel, which includes using electronic devices, changing the radio or programming navigation systems.

To avoid distracted driving Woodland says, “Number one, know where you’re going. Pre-program your GPS and adjust your seats and mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before putting the car into motion. Secure items in the vehicle. Properly secure your children and pets and store loose possessions or other items that could roll around in the car and then snack smart. Avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.”

Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that potentially unsafe mental distractions can last for as long as 27 seconds after drivers use voice-based technology to dial, change music or send a text message. At 25 mph, drivers travel the length of nearly three football fields in that amount of time. In the last six years, 9.5 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. involved a distracted driver. In Michigan, 44% of motorists personally feel it is very dangerous for someone to talk on a hand held phone while driving; yet 58% of those surveyed admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving within the past month.

In recognition of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, AAA is taking part in a campaign that encourages motorists to evaluate their driving habits and take a pledge to stay focused on the road, avoid cell phone use and minimize distractions. You’ll find more information about the effort at the link below. (DK)