BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Every day, at least 9 people are killed in a car crash, because of distracted driving. More than 1,000 people are hurt, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In reality, the number of deaths are likely much higher because most people don’t admit they were distracted at the time of a crash, and it’s a difficult to prove because of access to phones and phone records.
“A lot of accident reports across the country don’t even have a distracted driving option to check on the form. A lot of times they don’t even ask the questions whether someone was distracted or not while they were driving and the people involved in the accident don’t want to admit it either, so it’s a very under-reported statistic,” explains Clay Ingram of AAA Alabama.
It’s such a problem, that April has been deemed “distracted driving awareness month.” AAA is launching a nationwide campaign called “Don’t drive intoxicated, Don’t Drive “Intexticated,” to raise awareness about the dangers, and try to change attitudes.
“We just want people to understand that it's just as dangerous as drinking and driving. the level of danger is the same,” says Ingram. “if you look at a crashed car from a DUI crash and one from a texting and driving crash you can't tell them apart.”
Ingram just got back from Montgomery, where he went to support a hands free bill introduced by Senator Jim McClendon of Springville. The bill didn’t make it out of committee, but Ingram hopes it will come up again next year.
“Hands free is not risk free, but it helps. It makes the distraction a little less than if you’re holding the phone to your ear. Distracted driving is such a huge distraction its going to take a long time to get it resolved and get it addressed and make things safer for everybody out there,” says Ingram.
Ingram and AAA aren’t letting the legislative set-back slow them down. They have a distracted driving walk coming up in May in Montgomery.
“The biggest thing we can do is make that behavior socially unacceptable so that people will refrain from doing it and police themselves because it is so dangerous that many people do with drinking and driving. That’s our goal and our aim,” explains Ingram. “To get to the point where people are educated enough about how dangerous it is, they will put down the phone on their own.”
The walk is May 8 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. It will include laps around the state capitol. The goal, to raise awareness and show lawmakers how many people support distracted free driving. The event is free, but you’re encourage to sign up ahead of time. You can find out more about the campaign here.
“We’re trying to raises awareness and let people know how dangerous that is and hopefully distracted driving will become as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving is in recent years,” said Ingram.