U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY. is the 2016 national Distracted Driving Awareness Month slogan to stress again to drivers, the dangers of not concentrating on driving. According to the National Law Enforcement Liaison Program (LEL), “at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on our roadways.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has put together a Strategic Media Work Plan to appeal to younger drivers who can access the message through social media, but which applies to everyone behind the wheel. The program is supported in English and Spanish. The National Safety Council (NSC) has a short video running on its website detailing some of the ways distraction occurs when someone is behind the wheel.

It also reveals some of the misconceptions drivers have about distraction. For example, hands-free features in dashboards are perceived to be a safe way to talk on the phone. However, studies show that using phones or even listening hands-free, can actually increase mental distraction and cause drivers to “look at” but not “see” up to 50% of their surroundings.

The National Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign runs April 4 – 13, and the enforcement period, when law enforcement is out in force with special patrols aimed at catching distracted drivers, especially those on their phones, is April 8 – 13.