By Jason King
PG&E, a member of the National Safety Council, is working to drive awareness of the dangers of distracted driving by encouraging the public to take the pledge to drive phone-free during Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.
Technology allows us to make phone calls, dictate texts or emails and update social media while driving – all actions that are proven to increase crash risk. The National Safety Council observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to this epidemic.
PG&E is doing its part to reduce the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents, joining other leading companies in prohibiting cell phone use while driving on company time. Employees must pull over to a safe and legal parking spot if they want to take or make a call, check email or text. Given that PG&E employees drove 151 million miles in 2016, this policy is a key example of the company’s commitment to help keep the roads safer for all drivers.
“Distracted driving kills thousands of people on our roadways every year,” said Kelly Nantel, vice president, National Safety Council. “We applaud employers like PG&E for being leaders and empowering employees to take control of their own safety behind the wheel. During Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Safety Council hopes all employers will follow this lead and ask employees to disconnect and just drive.”
Drivers talking on cell phones — whether handheld or hands-free — fail to see 50 percent of their surroundings. Nonetheless, Americans continue to drive distracted and struggle to accurately assess risk. An NSC survey found that while two-thirds of drivers said another driver’s distraction has caused them to feel unsafe, just 25 percent feel their own distractions have put them or someone else at risk.
More than 1,700 vehicle-caused incidents in 2016 caused power outages across PG&E’s 70,000-square-mile service area from Eureka to Bakersfield, impacting nearly 693,000 homes and businesses. And, it is estimated that 80% of all accidents involve some form of distracted driving. These outages can interrupt electric service to important facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights. The average cost for replacing a utility pole damaged in a vehicle-caused incident was more than $10,000 this year.
“Distracted driving is one-hundred percent preventable. Unfortunately, it is also a serious public health threat and it compromises our ability to provide safe and reliable service to the communities that we serve. We share the same roads, and we encourage the public to join us and take the pledge to drive phone-free and also avoid other forms of distracted driving,” said PG&E’s John Higgins, senior vice president of safety and health.
To learn more about the dangers of distracted driving and to take the pledge to drive phone-free, visit the National Safety Council Distracted Driving Awareness Month homepage at www.nsc.org/ddmonth.
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