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The National Safety Council has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
According to the Council, thousands of people die each year in crashes caused by cell phone use while driving. But phone calls and text messages aren't the only distractions drivers should try to avoid while behind the wheel.
Here are 10 tips and facts to keep in mind for Distracted Driving Awareness Month:
- New teen drivers are distracted more easily. Drivers between the ages of 15 to 20 make up only 6.4 percent of drivers on the road, but account for 11.4 percent of traffic fatalities. So parents, please teach your kids responsible driving habits.
- Every distracted second counts. Keep in mind that if you're looking down at your cell phone for only 4 seconds while driving, you could be driving the entire length of a football field without looking at the road.
- Eating while driving can be considered distracting. Although Distracted Driving Awareness Month focuses more on cell phone use, eating while driving can get you pulled over if cops think your snack time is taking your attention off the road.
- Cell phone records can be used in court. Think you can keep your cell phone use while driving a secret? Think again. Text-message and call records from cell-phone companies can be used in court to prove that you were distracted when the accident occurred.
- Texting and driving can lead to child endangerment charges. A California mom was arrested when she was caught texting and driving while she had her 1-year-old baby in her lap without any child restraints.
- Distracted driving can lead to public shaming. A local project in San Francisco called "TWIT Spotting" encourages bystanders to snap pictures of distracted drivers and turn them in. The photos are then posted on the "TWIT Spotting" website or placed on billboards in an effort to publicly shame the driver for his dangerous behavior.
- Texting crash videos will make you think twice. While they may be hard to watch, texting crash videos serve as a somber reminder of what can happen when you take your attention away from the road, even for a split second.
- Hands-free cell phone use can still be distracting. Although hands-free cell phone use while driving is generally legal in many places, it can still be a distraction for drivers who get wrapped up in their conversations and forget about the road.
- Use an app to curb your bad habits. There are smartphone apps out there that automatically shut off your messaging apps and temporarily stop incoming calls and text messages when you're driving.
- You could land in some deep doo-doo. Finally, there's a lesson to be learned from the driver who was texting while driving a rented convertible when he crashed into a truck hauling liquid manure. So don't be a doo-doo head and steer clear of all distractions while you're driving.
Although Distracted Driving Awareness Month only lasts until the end of April, you should hang up all bad habits that lead to distracted driving year-round. To learn more about distracted driving laws and potential consequences, check out FindLaw's article on Distracted Driving.