Keeping Drivers Alert
Insufficient attention to the task of driving puts drivers and others at greater risk on North Carolina’s roadways. The explosion of wireless handheld devices coupled with a multitasking, frenetic society have amplified this longstanding cause of vehicular crashes in recent years. Because law enforcement officers must rely on witness accounts or admission from the drivers themselves, an accurate assessment of the magnitude of this issue is difficult to establish.
- From 2009 – 2013, an average of 135 fatalities occurred each year due to distracted drivers and over 25 annual fatalities resulting from drowsy drivers.
- Between 2008 and 2012, only two percent of fatalities and one percent of serious injuries attributed to distracted driving were classified as involving an electronic device—figures believed to be grossly understated.
Emphasis Area Goal
In 2013, there were 161 fatalities and 356 serious injuries due to distraction and drowsiness. The goal for this emphasis area is to reduce fatalities and serious injuries related to distraction and drowsiness.
- Explore the specifics of instituting a handheld cell phone ban while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion.
- Promote the existing ban on texting while driving by increasing the visibility of law enforcement and the frequency of high-visibility enforcement campaigns.
- Investigate new and emerging technologies to prevent distracted driving.
- Continue implementing rumble strips on roadway shoulders and investigate additional engineering countermeasures and programs that can alert drowsy or distracted drivers.
- Improve the quality of data on driver distraction to demonstrate the extent of the problem and need for a solution.
Indicators of Progress
- Number of miles of new rumble strips.
- Number of enforcement activities focused on distracted driving.
- Number of education or visibility activities focused on distracted driving.
Potential Implementing Agencies
- Law enforcement
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles
- University partners