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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and EEI and its member companies are committed to raising awareness of safe driving practices and preventing driver distractions.

When we think of distracted driving, cell phone use is typically the first action that comes to mind. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving includes anything that takes your attention off of the road. Drinking or eating, changing the radio station or navigation system, and even talking to the passengers in your car can all lead to distracted driving.

In 2015, it is estimated that nearly 660,000 drivers used a cell phone while driving during daylight hours. According to NHTSA, “Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.” This is an issue that must be addressed.

Safety is the top priority of the electric power industry, and EEI’s member companies are working to spread the word about distracted driving.

Ameren Illinois, for example, is taking its own approach to eliminating driver distractions by giving all of its field employees a new, comprehensive driver training program. The program highlights visibility and reaction times, as well as the awareness of pedestrians and nearby vehicles.

“In the energy delivery business, we're used to being road warriors, whether it's traveling in a rental vehicle to visit an operating center, attending a meeting, or driving a work truck to a customer job site. At Ameren Illinois, where we serve 2 million customers in a geographic footprint that stretches two-thirds of the state, our field employees collectively log more than 30 million miles each year. That's a lot of windshield time. So when I was approached about participating in a new comprehensive driver training program, it was easy to say yes,” said Ameren Illinois President Richard Mark.

In New York, Central Hudson Gas & Electric is also raising awareness this month by launching its “Thanks for putting down the phone. Stay in the Safety Zone: It’s the bright thing to do” campaign. According to Central Hudson Vice President of Public Relations Denise VanBuren, this effort is an attempt to make the roads safer for everyone. As part of its campaign, Central Hudson will run safety messages across multiple channels, including television, radio, newspapers, highway billboards, and social media, to raise awareness.

Distracted driving is an issue that must be taken seriously. EEI and its member companies stand together to support Distracted Driving Awareness Month in an effort to keep roads and pedestrians as safe as possible. For more information on Distracted Driving Awareness Month, please visit the National Safety Council website.