April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is national distracted driving awareness month and the Eureka Police Department, the California Highway Patrol (CHP), and other local California agencies will be keeping an eye out for distracted drivers, particularly those who are texting or using handheld cellphones while driving. The effort is aimed to increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and to prevent related accidents.

Recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that 69 percent of US drivers ages 18-24 “reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed” and that 31 percent of US drivers ages 18-64 “reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed.”

If you are an employer with employees who drive on work related business, now is a good time to remind employees not to use their cell phones while driving. It may also be prudent to institute an explicit company policy prohibiting  texting and handheld cell phone use while driving on the job.  In addition to increasing the risk for employee injuries, distracted driving by employees also increases your business’s potential liability exposure.

In September of 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from using government equipment to text while driving and from texting while driving on government business.

A distracted driving ticket costs a minimum of $159. For more information the statewide effort to curb illegal texting and cell phone use, see the CHP’s press release.