AAA ads discourage cell phone use while driving

Posted September 10, 2008 3:23 p.m. EDT

— AAA Carolinas launched an ad campaign at more than 50 North Carolina gas stations Wednesday to draw attention to the dangers of distracted driving, particularly using a cell phone while driving.

“Talking or texting on a cell phone distracts a driver, taking his attention off the road and putting him in danger of a crash,” Tom Crosby, president of the Carolina Motor Club Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a statement.

Eighty percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes occurred when drivers were distracted, primarily by wireless devices like cell phones or Blackberries, according to a 2008 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

In the 2008 AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index, eight of 10 drivers rated distracted driving as a serious problem, but 53 percent of them admitted they had talked on their cell phone while driving in the past 30 days and 14 percent admitted they had read or sent a text message in the past 30 days.

The distracted-driving ads are on gas pumps in five counties: Wake, Durham, New Hanover, Pitt and Watauga. The counties were chosen based on an annual analysis by AAA Carolinas to identify the most dangerous counties for crashes and injuries per vehicle mile driven.

AAA Carolinas offers the following tips for cell phone use by drivers:

  • Use a cell phone in a vehicle only when absolutely necessary. Any use of a cell phone while driving should be with a hands-free device.
  • Don't take your hands off the wheel to either answer or initiate a cell phone call.
  • Unexpected phone calls should go directly to voice mail. Pull off the road to check voice mail messages and return calls.
  • Never use a cell phone to text a message while driving. Texting is one of the worst distractions because it requires both physical and mental attention, taking away attention from watching the road.