New York State Department of Health Campaign Raises Awareness About the Dangers of Distractions for Drivers and Pedestrians

Media Campaign Aims to Reduce Crashes and Injuries Caused by Distractions While Driving and Walking

View the Campaign Ad Here

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 3, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health has launched a media campaign aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of distractions for drivers and pedestrians, as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.

"Your health and safety are more important than any and every message on any device," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "This campaign illustrates that just a split second of inattention can lead to crashes causing devastating injuries and even death. Waiting until it is safe to return text messages and paying attention to surroundings while driving -- or even walking -- can mean the difference between life and death."

Distracted driving generally includes any activity that takes attention away from the safe operation of a moving vehicle, including distractions both inside and outside of a vehicle such as texting while driving, new technology in the vehicle, eating while driving, audio systems, and navigating unfamiliar roads.

According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management & Research at the University at Albany's Rockefeller College, distracted driving was reported as a contributing factor in 1 out of every 10 fatal crashes and 1 in 4 personal injury crashes in New York in 2021. Additionally, self-reported driving behavior indicates that in 2022, 19% of drivers say they drove while talking on a cell phone; 29% said they drove while reading a text message; and 20% said they drove while typing on a cell phone or other electronic device.

Injuries to pedestrians are among the top 10 leading cause of injury-related hospital admissions and deaths for almost all age groups in New York, with more than 3,000 pedestrians admitted to hospitals annually. In 2021, 271 pedestrians were killed and 12,476 injured in motor vehicle crashes on New York State roadways.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "There is simply no level of distracted driving that is innocuous. Distracted driving is dangerous behavior that can have severe consequences for all users of the road. The New York State Department of Transportation is pleased to partner with the Department of Health and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee on this public awareness campaign educating drivers about the consequences of distracted driving. To the traveling public: no text message is worth your life. Put your phones down, buckle up, pay attention to the road and its surroundings, and let's work together to enhance safety in every area of New York."

State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Chair Mark J.F Schroeder said, "We are pleased to be able to continue to help get this message out. As we prepare to enter the busy driving season, it's even more important to be alert and aware behind the wheel. Distracted driving, like impaired driving, can be avoided if drivers make it a priority to ensure they and others on the road and on foot safely get where they are going."

The media campaign, funded through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by a grant from the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, creates awareness of the dangers of distracted driving through advertisements on streaming audio and video services, and on social media.

The video is available to view here and below is the video script:

They steal your attention when it matters most.
They're dangerous when you're driving.
And just as dangerous when you're walking.
Driving or walking see and be seen!
The instant you stop paying attention could be the instant you'll always regret.

To learn more about New York's ongoing efforts to prevent distracted driving, visit the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee website.

Additional information about distracted driving is available on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website and the Governors Highway Safety Association website.

For information about pedestrian safety, visit here.