Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey kicked off Distracted Driving Awareness month by urging motorists to focus on the job at hand and keep distractions at bay when they get behind the wheel.

“Driving requires a lot of concentration, whether you’re a novice or you’ve logged thousands of miles on the road,” Causey said. “I’m asking every driver to focus on the road and not let distractions veer their concentration from safely getting to their destination.”

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Causey joins the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, other insurance commissioners and safety advocates across the nation in raising the awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

Distracting driving can cause a driver to veer off the road or hit another car, resulting in property damage, personal injury and loss of life.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving killed 3,142 people in 2019, a 10 percent increase from 2018.

In addition, distracted driving can put upward pressure on insurance companies to increase automobile insurance rates due to the number of claims filed as a result of accidents.

There are many forms of distracted driving – talking or texting on a cell phone, eating or drinking coffee, putting on makeup, setting the navigation system, changing the radio station or tending to a child in the car. By distracted driving, you’re robbing yourself of the concentration you need to avoid a crash.

Stay Focused

Tips to help drivers avoid the pitfalls of distracted driving:

♦ If you feel you really need to send a text, pull off the road and safely park before sending the text.

♦ Select a passenger as your “designated texter” to send and receive texts for you.

♦ Set your navigation system before you start driving. Do the same for your radio station.

♦ Don’t scroll through apps or social media while driving. If you feel tempted, you can turn your phone off, or put it in the glove box, back seat or trunk.

♦ Ask someone in the car to tend to the needs of children if the need arises.

♦ Ask your passengers to help you stay focused and avoid distracted driving.