Orthopaedic Surgeons Launch National Education Campaign To Reduce Distracted Driving

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Study says 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of near crashes involve some type of distraction.

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We want people to know that making phone calls, or sending text message simply isn’t worth the risk. Orthopaedic surgeons want to prevent the pain, suffering and devastating iinjuries associated with crashes related to distracted driving

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Just when deaths and crashes from drinking and driving have fallen to an all-time low, distracted driving is causing thousands of needless injuries and fatalities on our roadways.

Some brief facts on the problem:

● The National Safety Council data indicate that every 26 seconds there is a car crash due to talking and texting on the phone while driving – contributing to 90,031 crashes in the first month of this year alone

● A Nationwide Insurance public opinion poll showed 81 percent of the public admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving. And NHTSA estimates that 11 percent of drivers at     any point during the day are talking on cell phones while driving. Those people are four times more likely to be involved in a crash.

●National Safety Council (NCS) estimates that nearly 28 percent of crashes – about 1.6 million a year – can be attributed to cell phone talking and texting while driving.

●A Virginia Tech/ NHTSA study reported that 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of near crashes involve some type of distraction.

●Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver,and more than half a million were injured. (NHTSA).

What makes the above trends even more serious is that cell phones are just one of many forms of distractions in today’s high tech vehicles, which are equipped with GPS, video screens, CD players and other activities that can distract the driver. Given that many drivers are multi-tasking, trying to maintain order in their vehicles with noisy children, perhaps eating on the run, and you have a perfect storm for road disaster.

Even talking to other passengers can be distracting, according to a Carnegie Mellon study. In their study, they took pictures of the brain while drivers listened to sentences and drove on a simulator. The drivers listening to sentences had a 37 percent reduction in spatial awareness, which can directly contribute to cognitive distraction.

Why AAOS Cares.

As the leading professional organization representing America’s orthopaedic surgeons, AAOS member physicians are often the ones who treat severely injured people hurt in serious car crashes.

“We see life-changing injuries from distracted-driving related crashes every day. We want people to know that making phone calls, or sending text message simply isn’t worth the risk. Orthopaedic surgeons want to prevent the pain, suffering and devastating injuries associated with crashes related to distracted driving,” said Michael F. Schafer, MD, chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet.

Multi-Faceted Campaign

“The 2011 multi-faceted public service advertising campaign will engage broadcast, cable, print, out-of-home and social media,” says Sandra Gordon, Director of Public Relations for the AAOS. “Our partnership with the Auto Alliance and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association is helping us to spread the word through an interactive website called Decide to Drive http://www.decidetodrive.org. The site features a map that will pinpoint where drivers have reported incidents of distracted driving and site visitors will be able to see different occurrences for their particular part of the country.

Anyone passing through Times Square is sure to notice the messages on the jumbo electronic screen promoting David Letterman’s “Late Show.” In February, March, and April, messages will flash 18 times an hour warning the bustling throngs below of the dangers of distracted driving. It’s made possible by funding provided by the Auto Alliance, a campaign partner.

To kick-off the campaign, AAOS and its partner organizations will stage a press conference April 6th at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. April has also been designated by Congress as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. At the conference the results of a Harris poll on distracted driving will be released to the media.

PSA materials are being distributed to 8,000 broadcast, cable, radio, print and out-of-home media and an interactive press release is being distributed to 30,000 journalists and online media outlets via PR Web.

The media can also download high-quality campaign materials from a special website http://www.goodwillcommunications.com/PSADigitalFiles.aspx?campId=166

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