Focus on the Road: Distracted Driving Awareness Month

secure Editorial Standards

SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More

April 2024 marks the 15th annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Throughout the month, organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council (NSC) aim to increase the visibility of the dangers of using a cell phone while driving and encourage drivers to be more vigilant and practice good driving habits when they’re behind the wheel.

Keep reading to learn more about Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the statistics behind texting and driving.

Key Takeaways

  • Distracted Driving Awareness Month is observed every April to highlight the dangers of distracted driving.
  • More than 3,000 people were killed and more than 362,000 people were injured in accidents that involved distracted drivers in 2021.
  • Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Examples of distracted driving can include using your phone, talking to passengers, changing the radio station or eating and drinking while you drive.
  • Insurance companies may offer discounts for safe driving behaviors, while your insurance rates will almost certainly go up if you get into a distracted driving accident.

Why Was Distracted Driving Awareness Month Created?

Distracted Driving Awareness Month was created in honor of Erica Forney, a nine-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a distracted driver in 2008. Congress passed a resolution in 2010 that officially designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month and encouraged American citizens to be observant of others on the road and to drive safely.[1]

Prevalence of Distracted Driving

Raising awareness about distracted driving is especially important considering how prevalent phone use has become among the majority of drivers. A 2023 survey revealed that 80% of respondents admitted to talking on the phone while driving, 57% admitted to reading texts or emails and 49% admitted to typing texts or emails.[2] Meanwhile, a recent analysis found that phone use played a role in just under 30% of all car crashes from January 2023 to May 2023.[3]

Steps Being Taken To Raise Distracted Driving Awareness

Multiple groups are organizing campaigns to raise awareness about distracted driving during the month of April. For example, the NHTSA will host a live event in Washington, D.C., on April 1 to kick off its “Put the Phone Away or Pay” campaign, which will highlight government efforts to crack down on distracted driving.[4]

In addition, the NSC is encouraging drivers to accept and share the “Just Drive Pledge.” In doing so, the organization hopes people will commit to staying focused while driving and speaking up when other use their phones while driving.[5]

Drivers should note that it is illegal to text while driving in every state except for Montana, although police officers in some states can only give you a citation for texting and driving if they pull you over for a different traffic offense.[6] You could also face consequences for other distracted driving behaviors like drifting out of your lane while talking on the phone or failing to pull over for an ambulance because you were driving with headphones and didn’t hear its siren.

Distracted Driving Can Lead to Injury or Death

Driver distraction is responsible for thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries every year. In 2021, 3,522 people died as a result of car crashes involving distracted drivers, with nearly 20% of them being cyclists, pedestrians and other people who weren’t in a vehicle. Meanwhile, another 362,415 people suffered injuries amid distracted driving incidents.[7]

On average, you would need to take your eyes off the road for about five seconds to send or read a text message. If you’re driving 55 mph, that would be the equivalent of driving the length of a football field without looking at what’s in front of you.[8]

2021 saw a five-year peak in the number of fatal car accidents involving distracted drivers.[7] As a result, Distracted Driving Awareness Month is just as important now as it has ever been as individuals and organizations aim to make the roads safer and lower the number of distracted driving fatalities.

Graphic explaining the dangers of distracted driving

How To Improve Driving Awareness on the Road

The best way to improve distracted driving awareness is to discuss the issue with your loved ones and to practice safe driving habits yourself. While phone use is perhaps the most obvious distraction for drivers, you should also be careful when eating and drinking, talking with other passengers, changing the radio station or listening to loud music that could drown out surrounding traffic noise. In addition, it’s best to avoid any activity that requires taking your eyes off the road such as changing your GPS’ destination or applying makeup.

Of course, texting and driving is perhaps the most dangerous distracted driving offense. You can try out the following tips to help you resist the temptation to text on the road:[9]

  • Pull over and safely park your car if you need to respond to a text message
  • If someone else is riding with you, have your passenger respond to text messages for you
  • Place your phone in the glove compartment or somewhere else out of reach so that you can’t respond to any text messages until you reach your destination

The NHTSA also encourages people to share messages about the dangers of distracted driving in person or through social media.

It’s especially helpful when teen drivers talk about the issue with their friends since teenagers naturally tend to be high-risk drivers. Young people who are motivated to raise awareness for distracted driving can find a local chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions to join.[8]

Incentives for Safe Drivers

Car insurance companies offer many incentives for drivers to make wise choices and maintain a clean driving record, some of which are mandated by state laws. For example, some insurance carriers give discounted rates to people who complete a defensive driving course. In California, auto insurance companies are required to offer a 20% discount to good drivers.[10]

In addition, if you opt into a telematics insurance program, your insurance company will be able to track your driving behaviors and may reward good behaviors with lower auto insurance premiums. For example, you could see a decrease in the amount you have to pay for car insurance if you consistently stay within the speed limit and don’t get into any accidents.

Of course, insurance companies employ negative incentives as well. For example, if you have telematics insurance, your insurance company may raise your rates if they find you are frequently speeding or slamming on the brakes since these indicate that you may be distracted while driving. In addition, getting into any at-fault car accident will likely cause your insurance rates to go up.

Get a Cheap Auto Insurance Quote


When is Distracted Driving Awareness Month?

Distracted Driving Awareness Month is observed every April.

What are the main causes of distracted driving?

Some of the main causes of distracted driving include texting and other kinds of cell phone use, eating and drinking, talking with other passengers and changing the radio station.

Will my insurance rates go up if I get into a distracted driving accident?

Your insurance rates should go up after any accident you were responsible for.

Why is attentive driving important?

It’s important to stay attentive on the road because distracted driving is responsible for thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries every year.[7]


  1. Library of Congress. “Expressing Support for Designation of April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.” Accessed March 21, 2024.
  2. Travelers Insurance. “2023 Distracted Driving for Consumers [Infographic].” Accessed March 21, 2024.
  3. Zendrive. “Zendrive Analysis: Distracted Driving Worsens in the First Half of 2023.” Accessed March 21, 2024.
  4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Distracted Driving Prevention.” Accessed March 21, 2024.
  5. National Safety Council. “DDAM Distracted Driving Awareness Month Pledge.” Accessed March 21, 2024.
  6. Governors Highway Safety Association. “Distracted Driving.” Accessed March 21, 2024.
  7. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Distracted Driving in 2021,” Pages 1 and 5. Accessed March 21, 2024.
  8. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Distracted Driving Dangers and Statistics.” Accessed March 21, 2024.
  9. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.” Accessed March 21, 2024.
  10. California Department of Insurance. “Private Passenger Auto Class Plan Filing Instructions,” Page 15. Accessed March 21, 2024.

Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote Online Now.