Bike SLO County is committed to making Central Coast roads safer for everyone and Bike SLO County Executive Director Mike Bennett hopes that everyone can be part of the solution to distracted driving. His letter, below, marks the start of Bike SLO County’s efforts to eliminate distracted driving.

Distracted Driving“Dear Fellow Central Coast Residents,

In 2015, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year. During the same year Pedestrian fatalities increased 10% and Cyclist fatalities increased 13%. Since 2015, the statistics have only gotten worse.

The number of fatalities attributable to drunk driving, while still completely unacceptable, is falling, but the number of fatalities attributable to distracted driving is rising. Teenagers, already our most at risk group of motorists, are more likely to die in a crash attributable to Distracted Driving than in a crash attributable Drunk Driving. And automobile crashes continue to be the number one killer of teens, accounting for approximately one third of all teen deaths. Also statistically, each time a teen driver is killed in a car crash, two other people not behind the wheel, who may be in another vehicle, may be a pedestrian or may be a cyclist, are also killed.

So, I hope you are asking yourself the same question that I have been asking myself – what can I do to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. First – Choose to focus only on driving when you are behind the wheel. Driving is the most complex and dangerous task we do on a daily basis, give it the attention it deserves. In doing so you will set the example for your children, family and friends.
  2. Compared to the penalty for drunk driving, California’s penalty for distracted driving is almost non-existent. Please reach out to your state and local leadership and tell them to raise the penalties for Distracted Driving. I will be meeting with Assemblyman Cunningham asking him to introduce a bill to increase Distracted Driving penalties and your phone calls or letters of support to him will help make my argument stronger.
  3. Support local, state, and national organizations which are campaigning for Distracted Driving Awareness.
  4. Take advantage of opportunities at social events, club meeting and family dinners to speak out to your neighbors, friends, family members, and co-workers. Only when we all realize the gravity of the problem and commit to solving it, will we begin to make our roadways safer.
  5. Contribute to Bike SLO County or another organization dedicated to making our roadways safe for all users.

In the coming months and years, Bike SLO County, working with partners from the Central Coast business and government sectors will be developing and implementing a campaign to help educate members of our community on the dangers and costs that Distracted Driving is inflicting on our neighbors, friends and family members.

Our intent is to communicate through social media, radio, television, school assemblies, driver’s education classes, and any other means or venue that we can think to help people understand the risks.

The roadways are resources that everyone should be able to use without fear of injury or death. We hope that our efforts can be one more component of the larger Vision Zero effort and that one day our roadways will not be associated with any potential for injury or death.

If I can provide any further assistance or information, e-mail me at mike@bikeslocounty.org.”