By Fred A. Maas, Police Chief
Sunday, April 1, 2018 — Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing safety issues on roads today. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the national effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through public awareness, education, legislation, and enforcement. The Sunny Isles Beach Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety of all residents and visitors in Sunny Isles Beach and wants you to put down the distractions and focus on the road.
Cell phones, dashboard infotainment systems, and even passengers all pose significant threats to your safety. It only takes one second of your attention to change a life forever. Thousands of individuals have died in vehicle crashes because drivers are distracted by phone conversations, texts, emails, and social media.
There is no safe way to make a call or send a text while driving. Even hands-free is not risk-free. Hands-free devices and dashboards are still dangerous because our brains remain distracted by the conversation. The activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images can decrease by up to one third when listening or talking on the phone. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on driving.
If your call or text cannot wait, pull over to a safe location first. It may save your life or the lives of those around you. Try scheduling breaks during long trips where you can park safely and respond to messages. The effort also goes both ways. Do not call or text family and friends if you know that they are driving.
It is not just cell phones or infotainment systems that can cause distractions. Drowsy driving kills between 5,000 and 8,000 people every year. If you feel drowsy, pull over and take a nap. Do not keep driving.
While eliminating distractions as a driver is imperative, as a passenger, it is your duty to protect yourself and others on the road if the driver is engaging in unsafe behavior. Speak up if your driver is distracted.
As young drivers are learning the rules of the road, parents should set an example by never driving distracted. Have everyone in the family sign a pledge to commit to distraction-free driving.
It is up to parents to lead by example. It is up to young drivers to understand the responsibility that comes with driving. It is up to you to put your safety, and the safety of those with whom you share the road, first. Follow the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department on Facebook and Twitter at @SIBPD as we share important and lifesaving driver safety tips this month and year-round.