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April serves as reminder: Distracted driving is truly an epidemic

If you recently learned that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and thought about the dangers of driving and the need to be an ever-prudent motorist, self-congratulations are in order -- unless you were perusing that information while driving.

Most of our readers in Ohio and elsewhere would likely counter that the chance of something like that occurring is small and, to the extent it is sometimes true, it applies to "the other guy."

So, alright then, revel in those kudos, but do so while appreciating that the "other guy" is collectively legion on Ohio and national roadways, and that distracted drivers are mindlessly steering their vehicles along American highways, interstates and streets by the millions.

Truly, distracted driving is a subject that denotes far more than an incidental problem. It is a national epidemic, and its downside is on ready display every day of the year in stories relating tragedies surrounding death and serious injuries.

How serious is the problem? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that distracted driving led to more than 3,000 road fatalities nationally in 2011. Nearly 390,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents attributed to non-focused driving that same year.

The national automotive group AAA underscores the magnitude of the problem by periodically addressing it in various forms. The organization recently did so by releasing a Top-10 list of tips for motorists aimed at helping them avoid distractions.

Unsurprisingly, the list is, well, unsurprising. In fact, it is replete with common-sense reminders of what all motorists need to be doing and thinking about when behind the wheel.

To wit: Keep your eyes and mind on the road and the important task of staying alive. Keep your hands on the wheel and off of your "stuff." If you must fiddle around with gadgets, systems and settings, do so before you start the car. Obviously, don't snack, groom or play with pets and kids.

And, what is perhaps most obvious of all, put that phone down and keep it turned off while the motor is turned on.

Heeding the basics will keep you and others on the road alive and injury-free.

Source: WATE-TV, "AAA recognizes distracted driving awareness month with safety tips," Drew Gardner, April 1, 2014

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