Distracted Driving Awareness month sheds light on dangers behind the wheel

Donna Lyon is used to questions about distracted driving. As one of the owners of Lyon’s Driving School in Rohnert Park, she welcomes them. Her job is to help people keep their eyes on the road. The National Safety Council observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to thousands who have died in car crashes involving cell phone use.
With technology and smartphones, people can text, call, map and do pretty much anything while driving. Cell phone use proves to be the number one source of distracted driving, causing many deaths all over the world.

“Some tips on safe driving are to keep radio down, eyes on road, try not to be distracted by friends in the backseat, and try to not eat or do makeup while driving,” said Lyon. “You need to take safe driving seriously in order to not be distracted.”

Research shows the brain remains distracted for 27 seconds after dialing, changing music or sending a text. It is extremely common to see drivers looking at their phone while driving and many people are guilty of doing it.

Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes.

Distracted driving is considered an epidemic that occurs on roadways across the U.S. In 2014, approximately 3,129 people died in distracted driving crashes, according to distraction.gov. On the National Safety Council’s website, students can take the Focused Driver Challenge and pledge to be cell-free while driving to avoid distractions.

Local driving schools in the Rohnert Park area include Miller Driving School, Lyon’s Driving Academy and John’s Driving School. Most have classroom driver’s education every month, where students can gain tips for safe driving and avoiding distractions while at the wheel.
Rohnert Park Police Department is active in the fight against distracted driving, informing the public and creating safety for everyone.

“Patrol officers are on a higher lookout for violators as well as extra dedicated patrol shifts,” said Traffic Sgt. Jerrod Marshall. “Officers dedicated to OTS overtime will be out on the streets during the month dedicated to finding and citing distracted drivers.”.
If anyone needs to touch up on their driving and safety skills, AARP sponsors driving courses open to the public. The course includes road and driver safety rules, as well as California driving laws.

One must sign up for two sessions, and by taking this course you may qualify for possible deductions from your auto insurance company. Session fees are $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members.

Multiple Sonoma State students have caused or gotten in car accidents due to distracted driving. Some even resulting in deaths.

In 2010, a Sonoma State freshman killed a two-year-old girl while being distracted by texting on her phone while driving on Snyder Lane.
The child killed was walking with her mother through a crosswalk on the Snyder Lane when both were struck by the vehicle.  

For more information on distracted driving and how to be safe, visit distraction.gov or nsc.org.