NHTSA Holds Annual Distracted Driving Prevention Effort

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is holding its annual “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” distracted driving prevention campaign April 3 through 10.

[Above photo by the Delaware DOT]

Together with Captain Ron Mead of the Washington State Patrol, Steve Kiefer of the Kiefer Foundation, and Torine Creppy of Safe Kids Worldwide, NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman previewed the new assets for the agency’s 2023 campaign at the 41st annual Lifesavers Conference.

Photo by WSDOT

That campaign, now in its ninth year, is supported by a $5 million national media buy in English and Spanish on television, radio and digital platforms.

Concurrently, NHTSA released a new analysis of the 2021 fatal crash data, which underscores the risk of distracted and other forms of risky driving. Fatalities in distraction-affected crashes increased by 12 percent from 3,154 in 2020 to 3,522 in 2021, a total of 8.2 percent of all fatalities reported.

“[This] data tells us just how much harm distracted driving can cause and why a nationwide campaign is more important today than ever,” said NHTSA’s Shulman in a statement.

Sophie Shulman, Photo by NHTSA.

“We need to use all the tools we have to reduce distracted driving: state laws, education and outreach, and disabling of phones while driving can all work to save lives.”

Even with these high numbers, NHTSA said distraction is likely underreported because the behavior is “difficult to detect” during crash investigations, and police reports likely understate its incidence.

NHTSA’s “The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2019” report, released in February, found that distracted driving was involved in 29 percent of all vehicle crashes, resulting in 10,546 fatalities, 1.3 million nonfatal injuries, and $98.2 billion in economic costs in 2019.

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