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AAA Offers Safe Driving Tips as Pandemic Changes Everything

AAA East Central wants to remind motorists that hanging items from a rear-view mirror, including protective masks, is a safety hazard. With varying requirements about masks/facial coverings in place, many motorists are keeping masks in their cars, and many are hanging them from their rear-view mirrors as a way to keep them handy. This has the potential to partially block their field of vision, putting them and others in harm’s way.

“It is essential to have a completely clear field of vision while driving,” says Theresa Podguski, legislative director, AAA East Central. “Motorists should keep their masks in their glove boxes, middle consoles, or back seats to avoid this preventable hazard.”

In a typical city, a motorist encounters as many as 200 different situations per mile. The eyes provide nearly all of the information needed to respond to road conditions, traffic patterns, signals, and signs. Obstructing this field of vision, even partially, can cause you to miss things that should be seen, such as signs, pedestrians, wildlife, motorcycles, bikes, or other vehicles.

Distracted driving continues to be a danger to everyone on the nation’s roads. In 2018, 2,841 people died in distracted driving crashes in America, according to the latest data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. AAA East Central reminds everyone that no life is worth losing to distraction and encourages all drivers to remain focused on the road ahead to save lives.

“Some motorists may feel that with the pandemic, there’s a lower risk for crashes, but that’s not the case,” Podguski said. “As long as there is anyone on the road, distracted driving presents a deadly threat to both the drivers and everyone else.”

Don’t Drive Intoxicated. This AAA campaign reminds drivers that the consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same – deaths and injuries that are entirely preventable. And while many may think distractions are limited to cell phones, they can also include eating, changing music, adjusting the navigation, talking to other passengers, and anything else that takes attention from driving.

Many drivers are guilty of a “double standard” when it comes to distracted driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2019 Traffic Safety Culture Index found that while 96 percent of drivers believed it was very or extremely dangerous to text or email while driving, nearly four out of 10 drivers admitted to doing so within the previous 30 days.

To avoid distractions while driving, the AAA East Central recommends that motorists:

Put aside electronic distractions. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate “do not disturb” call/text blocking features.

Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road.

Groom before you leave. Don’t use your time behind the wheel to fix your hair or makeup – this can be a deadly decision.

Stay focused. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

Secure your items. Properly secure items, children, and pets that can move around the vehicle and distract you.

Be mindful of your passengers. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.

Be a good passenger. Offer to assist the driver, and don’t distract them.

For more information, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 76 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. Past news releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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