Distracted Driving Awareness month reminds drivers to pay attention behind the wheel

Distracted Driving Awareness month reminds drivers to pay attention behind the wheel

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - An all too familiar scene on the roads is drivers getting distracted behind the wheel.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

One month out of the year is certainly not enough to observe safer driving habits. This is something we should always keep in mind.

The good news is, there are ways in which our changing culture is evolving to deal with technology and how it can both help and hurt us on the roads.

Joe Plattenburg is a Data Scientist for Root Insurance Company with a lot of statistics on drivers today.

"80 percent of American adults admit to having used their phone while driving. Another interesting thing about that is, we've also found that same 80 percent will say that if they were in a taxi or an Uber they would actually ask to get out of the vehicle if the driver were using their phone as well, so apparently there's some disconnect here where people know this is a problem, but they're not actually incorporating those safe behaviors," Plattenburg explained.

That same survey found 89% of millennial drivers, or nearly 9 in 10, admit to using a mobile device while driving.

Chris Samul teaches at Maumee Valley Country Day School and is also the head coach of the rowing team for Perrysburg High school. He said getting the kids to put their phones down is a constant struggle, although he does see the same issue with other adults too.

"I think it's harder for teens to make the decision, cognitively, not to be on their phone, and that is where problems arise," said  Samul.

We know that there's more distractions than ever, especially with cell phones, but there are ways in which apps can actually help us become better drivers.

Molly Mies drives quite a bit for her age. She lives close to Fremont and is a junior at Fremont Ross High School.

Mies frequently drives into Toledo to go to rowing practice, and her parents have set a few extra rules to make sure she stays safe while clocking all those hours on the roads.

"I'm on a LIVE 360 app so my parents see me wherever I go, and they see if I'm on my phone so it's kind of in the back of my head while I'm driving. Like okay, if I do this I'm going to get my phone taken away, I'm going to get my car taken away. There's no point in doing it if I don't want these taken away," said Mies.

Research also says 7 in 10 drivers would drive more cautiously if they knew it would guarantee a lower insurance rate. Some companies track speed with devices that plug into your dashboard, or take into account things like age or experience.

The Root app tracks phone use while driving and establishes a rate from there. That's a new alternative for young, attentive drivers who haven't yet gotten the chance to prove their safe habits.

Plattenburg said the app is the wave of the future.

While it's only currently available in some states (locally that means you can get it in Ohio but not Michigan yet), he said the company plans to go nationwide by the end of next year.

"All of the information we need from the speed you're driving at to interaction with your phone, we're able to connect all of that through the sensors in the smartphone," said Plattenburg.

Even with the phones out of the equation, there's still plenty of distractions out there, especially for teens.

It never hurts to remind one another to be alert behind the wheel.

Collin Creps is a senior at Perrysburg High School, and has been driving for more than ten percent of his life so far, to put it in perspective.

"You've just got to be safe. I'm a pretty good driver I think. I don't know why everyone's laughing," he joked as his team erupted in contagious laughter behind him.

Mike Gittelman is President-Elect for the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics . He is also a pediatric emergency room physician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. He stresses the importance for parents to set their own rules for their teens.

"Anything that we do as a society, especially for children and teenagers is always a good practice." He encourages creating contracts with your teen that go beyond what the law require," Gittelman said.

Each child is different, but adding expectations like limiting their time on the road after dark, or how many passengers they have with them at a time, he says, can be a great place to start.

"All of us don't want to see our children harmed in any way. Injuries are the top cause of death for our kids. We should do everything possible to help our kids live safe, healthy and productive lives."  Gittelman added.

For more resources on how to talk to your child about safe driving, visit the Ohio Chapter of the

American Academy of Pediatrics, here.

Key stats from the Harris Poll survey found that parents are more distracted while driving than non-parent:

  • A higher percentage of drivers who are parents of children under 18 admit to having used a mobile device while driving than those that are not parents of children under 18 (87 percent vs 75 percent).
  • Another study shows that 1 in 7 drivers who are parents of children under the age of 18 (14 percent) admit to taking a selfie while driving.
  • Nearly 10% of millennial men admit to having caused an accident or hit something due to using a mobile device while driving 10% of male drivers admit to shopping online while driving

In-depth statistics from the survey referenced, can be found here.

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