April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the TIME Task Force is helping to spread awareness of the importance of safe and distraction-free driving to the motoring public. One part of traffic incident management enhancement is working to mitigate the number of accidents and encouraging drivers to practice safe driving with a clear head and clear hands. Throughout the remainder of the month, we will be sharing posts and information on social media and our website from a few organizations and agencies, particularly National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Lutzie 43 Foundation, to highlight the harms of distracted driving.  

Along with distracted driving awareness month, this week is National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), an annual spring campaign at the start of construction season which is held to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. NWZAW was first launched in 1998 by the Virginia Department of Transportation and the key message is for drivers to heed traffic control devices which warn of work zone hazards, and use extra caution in work zones. In addition, some of the goals of the campaign are to establish and promote safety tips and share the value of training and importance of best practices regarding work zone safety. This year, the Missouri Department of Transportation will be hosting the national campaign with the theme of “You play a role in work zone safety. Work with us.” 

Fittingly, NWZAW is being held during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month as they both go hand-in-hand. While work crews on interstates and highways do their best to ensure the safety of all in work zones, sometimes tragedies occur because of a variety of factors. Distracted driving incidents are a big factor. In 2021, distracted driving killed 3,522 people, according to NHTSA. And in 2020, 857 people were killed in work zone crashes, most of them drivers, their passengers, and pedestrian workers, according to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse. These incidents can be prevented but it takes effort on all ends, particularly those behind the wheel. Taking into account these factors, use this safe driving checklist from Lutzie 43 to make sure you are safe to drive: 

  • Ensure you have a clear head – one that is not affected by alcohol, drugs, emotions, or fatigue. 
  • Have clear hands – before driving, send that text, adjust the radio, and put all devices away so you can drive with both hands. 
  • Have clear eyes – set your sights on the road ahead. Do not look to the side at a passenger or a pet, or down at a text. 
  • Finally, click your seatbelt. It’s the law and could save your life! 

To learn more about the campaign and related initiatives, visit https://www.nwzaw.org.