TDOT CHOOSES WINNERS OF ONLINE CONTEST FOR ROAD MESSAGING SIGNS
In an effort to raise safety awareness, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) recently held an online contest asking people to submit safety messages they wanted to see displayed on the state’s Dynamic Message Signs throughout the upcoming year.
In the initial voting stages, more than 3,400 entries were received from people all across the United States. Out of these entries, 15 messages made it to the final round of voting, covering safety issues such as distracted driving, seatbelt usage, impaired driving, and speeding and aggressive driving.
The top five messages, which the TDOT says will be displayed in rotation on overhead electronic highway signs throughout the state, are:
- “Texting and Driving? Oh cell no!”
- “Exit to text it.”
- “It’s Tennessee. Slow down and enjoy the view.”
- “Hey you! Yeah you! Hang up and drive!”
- “Tailgating is for the game, not the road.”
Of course, the main purpose of these displays is to notify drivers of hazardous road conditions, car accidents, Amber Alerts and other potential dangers. The hope is that these new messages will aid this effort by not only increasing driver awareness, but also reducing the number of car accidents caused by driver inattention, driver distraction, and other dangers Tennessee drivers are likely to encounter.
CAUSES OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
According to the U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving (distraction.gov), 3,328 people were fatally injured in 2012 as a result of a distracted driver. Another 421,000 people sustained varying degrees of injuries in distracted driving accidents that same year. More than nine people per day are killed in vehicle-related accidents involving distracted drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The fact of the matter is that distracted driving is risky not only for the driver and his or her passengers, but for all others sharing the streets, roads and highways.
It is potentially disastrous any time a driver engages in activities that lead to hands off the steering wheel, eyes off the road, or attention off the task of driving. Some of the most common causes of distracted driving include:
- Texting while driving (an estimated 31 percent of U.S. drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 admit to either reading or sending text messages while driving)
- Use of a cell phone while driving (a survey of U.S. drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 revealed that 69 percent have used a cell phone at least once while driving)
- Talking to other passengers
- Changing radio stations
- Using in-vehicle technology
- Reaching for an object in the vehicle
- Looking at an incident or event outside the vehicle
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup or attending to other personal grooming
Drivers who become distracted, even for a short period of time, are far more likely to cause an injury accident than drivers who are paying attention to the road ahead and keeping an eye out for potential hazards, sudden stops, or other drivers who are speeding or driving recklessly or negligently.
ROAD HAZARDS AND DRIVER DANGERS: THE RISKS YOU MAY FACE
In addition to the risks posed by distracted drivers, drivers can encounter many other dangers and road hazards capable of causing serious injuries. The following are only a few of the potential road hazards or dangers drivers may find themselves facing along Tennessee roads, highways and interstates:
- Washed out or obstructed roadways
- Aggressive drivers or drivers exhibiting road rage
- Traffic jams or heavy congestion
- Vehicle collisions or stalled vehicles
- Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Vehicles traveling at an excessive rate of speed
ACTIONS DRIVERS CAN TAKE TO AVOID BEING INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT
Fortunately, drivers can minimize their risk of being involved in a car accident as a result of a distracted driver or a road hazard. It is these actions TDOT wants drivers to follow. With a few simple adjustments, drivers could significantly reduce the risk of sustaining serious injury or loss in a tragic and preventable collision.
- Slow down and adhere to posted speed limit signs
- Refrain from using your cell phone while driving
- Wait to text until you have pulled safely off the road and turned off your vehicle
- Don’t tailgate by leaving sufficient room between you and the vehicle in front of you
- If you find yourself exhibiting signs of anger or road rage while driving, do what you can to calm yourself down (listen to a comforting song, take a deep breath, pull over, etc.)
- Avoid activities that may pose a visual, manual or cognitive distraction
- WJHL: TDOT holds contest for highway message boards (http://www.wjhl.com/story/27975164/tdot-holds-contest-for-highway-message-boards)
- Local8Now: Voting for overhead road message signs begins
- Tennessee Government Website: TDOT Applauds Public’s Participation in Overhead Sign Message Contest (http://news.tn.gov/node/13510)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Distracted Driving