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VIDEO: Don’t Drive Intexicated

With National Distracted Driving Awareness Month underway, AAA Mid-Atlantic announced an important traffic safety campaign at the New Jersey State House today. Joined by lawmakers, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the New Jersey Brain Injury Alliance and traffic safety advocates, AAA kicked off the “Don’t Drive Intoxicated- Don’t Drive Intexticated” campaign, a new, multi-year initiative that aims to reduce deaths and injuries as a result of cell phone use by drivers.

“Don’t Drive Intoxicated—Don’t Drive Intexticated” seeks to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving. It targets drivers who would never consider getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or any other impairing substance and, yet, will regularly use mobile devices while driving, dangerously taking their eyes and minds off the road.

The word “Intexticated” is, of course, a play on the word “intoxicated.” And as such, the “Don’t Drive Intoxicated—Don’t Drive Intexticated” campaign links the impact of drinking and driving with distracted driving. Both are comparably dangerous and deadly, research shows. Both alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving kill and injure drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. In fact, research shows that a person using a cellphone while driving is four times as likely to be involved in a crash as drivers who are not.

“Whether it’s texting, calling, navigating or something else, using your cellphone can be dangerous while driving. Nothing you have to say or write is so important that it justifies jeopardizing your life or the lives of others on the roadway,” said Tracy E. Noble, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs.

Distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 each day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities behind speeding and driving under the influence. In addition, these numbers likely underestimate the problem because most drivers do not admit to distracting cell phone use after a crash.

“We hope that campaigns such as this one will invigorate a sense of responsibility so that every driver learns to care for one another on our roads – so that no lives will be lost so senselessly,” said Eric Heitmann, Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “Texting and driving – just like Drunk Driving – isn’t trendy, normal, or safe behavior—it’s a selfish and potentially life altering activity that could injure or kill you, a loved one, a friend, or a stranger.”

Distracted Driving in the Garden State

The New Jersey State Police determined that inattentive driving, also known as distracted driving was the top cause in 196 fatal crashes in 2017 making it the leading cause for New Jersey traffic fatalities for the sixth year in a row. Additionally, according to the state Judiciary, last year, police issued 55,644 summonses for driving while using a hand held cell phone. Of those, 42,334 motorists either pleaded guilty or were found guilty.

“We all need to do better to eliminate distractions while we drive. Distracted driving is unnecessary and dangerous,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. “As policymakers, we must continue to work together to educate the driving public and seek ways to end distracted driving in New Jersey. I am proud to stand with AAA and support Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”

Sadly, Traffic Safety Advocate Charles Donato and his family know all too well the pain a distracted driver can cause a family. On June 1, 2011, Toni Donato Bolis, 28 years old, and her unborn son, were killed in a motor vehicle crash caused by a distracted driver using a cell phone. Toni was less than a mile away from home in Sewell, NJ, and less than 36 hours away from giving birth to her second child, Ryan Jeffrey. A driver distracted by using his cell phone entered the lane of opposing traffic. After missing two other cars, he struck Toni’s SUV head on.

New research released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that even though 97 percent of drivers say texting/emailing while driving is a serious or very serious threat to their safety, 45 percent admit to having read a text or email while driving in the past month, and 35 percent admit to having typed one. AAA’s sobering new message makes it clear that the consequences of both alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving are the same – deaths and injuries.

A new AAA survey* conducted last month of New Jersey drivers 18 and over revealed the following thoughts and opinions on distracted driving:

60 percent are very concerned about safety on the road due to other drivers being distracted by their electronic devices.
76 percent say that they think it is never okay to use your Smartphone for texting, emailing, or social media while driving.
76 percent believe that the dangers of using a Smartphone for texting, emailing, and social media can be as serious as drinking and driving.
82 percent would support a law that would ban video chatting or watching video-streaming devices while driving.

“Decades of public education efforts against alcohol-impaired driving have helped reduce by one-half the number of alcohol-impaired crash fatalities since the 1980s, according to the National Institute of Health,” Noble said. “Similarly, traffic safety advocates believe that we can make a difference to limit or stop texting and emailing behind the wheel with increased public awareness of the traffic safety dangers distracted driving poses.”

AAA encourages all motorists to eliminate distracted driving by following these tips:

Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
Pull over. If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek his or her help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
Everyone should prevent being Intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.

“AAA has made traffic safety a priority since 1921, working to make roads, vehicles and drivers safer,” Through this latest initiative, we are committed to changing attitudes and behaviors surrounding the deadly problem of distracted driving, and we will continue this effort for years to come.” Noble added. “Decades of public education efforts against alcohol-impaired driving have helped reduce by one-half the number of alcohol-impaired crash fatalities since the 1980s, according to the National Institute of Health. Through this latest initiative, we are committed to changing attitudes and behaviors surrounding the deadly problem of distracted driving, and we will continue this effort for years to come.”

“I applaud AAA for their leadership in launching the “Don’t Drive Intoxicated—Don’t Drive Intexticated” campaign, said Assemblywoman Carol Murphy. “The sad reality is distracted driving kills, and it’s a growing epidemic that we all have a responsibility to confront. As a legislator, I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that the public is aware of the life and death consequences associated with distracted driving.”

Pledge now. The multi-faceted “Don’t Drive Intoxicated—Don’t Drive Intexticated” traffic safety campaign is crafted to empower people change their behavior. For this reason, AAA Mid-Atlantic is encouraging the motoring public to take the pledge to prevent distracted driving. Drivers can go online at AAA.com/DontDriveDistracted to join us in our pledge to not drive Intexticated. Pledge cards are also available at AAA retail centers and Car Care Centers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

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