Safe Driving This Holiday Season

Winter has moved in with blustery winds and snow accumulations. The arrival of winter is accompanied by the annual rush of the holiday season, a time when our busy schedules become more hectic. We all have places to go – shopping, holiday parties and family dinners – but with snow-covered, icy roads becoming the norm, I urge everyone to use extra caution when traveling.
 
Around the holidays we see more people on the roads driving greater distances, and as a result holiday driving is statistically more dangerous than at any other times during the year. Help make this holiday season a safe one by simply driving a little slower, taking extra time when traveling, and keeping an eye out for other drivers and pedestrians.
 
STATS SHOW DANGERS OF DISTRACTED DRIVING 
 
By now we’ve all heard about the dangers of cell phone use while driving. Sadly, even with increased penalties and fines, I still see numerous drivers distracted by their cell phones on the roads. I understand our lives are busy and cell phones keep us connected to work, family and friends 24/7, but it can wait, texting and driving is dangerous and unnecessary.
 
Thousands of crashes and nearly nine deaths a day in the U.S. can be attributed to distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A CDC report cites 31 percent of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 said they had read or sent email or text messages while driving at some point during the month leading up to the survey. For high-school drivers, the number is close to half. It is absolutely imperative we reduce these instances.
 
An AT&T fact sheet cites research indicating texting drivers are 23 times more likely to get into an accident. Many drivers admitted they would stop texting if a parent or friend asked them to put down their phones. Speak up. Being proactive can save lives. Conversely, three-quarters of teens surveyed said they have seen their parents text and drive. I urge all drivers to set an example; put down the phone and focus on the road. Together, we can help protect our youngest New Yorkers, as well as all those who share our roads.
 
“IT CAN WAIT”- TAKE THE PLEDGE
 
Earlier this year I signed the “It Can Wait” pledge, emphasizing how important it is to drive cautiously and develop safe driving habits. In the spirit of that pledge, AT&T now offers an app to avoid distractions by silencing alerts, preventing outgoing messages, and sending incoming calls to voicemail. I strongly urge all drivers to consider downloading this app. By ensuring there are no distractions while behind the wheel, we keep ourselves, pedestrians and vulnerable children safer.
 
You can sign the “It Can Wait” pledge and download the app here: http://www.itcanwait.com/#/get-involved.
 
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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