April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The first week of April was California Teen Safe Driving Week. The goal of both is to help California drivers make good decisions behind the wheel. The vast majority of car and truck accidents are the result of mistakes made by drivers. Human error causes hundreds of thousands of injuries and thousands of traffic fatalities every year. The cost of careless driving is staggering.

Negligent driving is so common that people regularly acknowledge engaging in behaviors that they know to be unsafe. According to a recent study, 98 percent of people surveyed identified texting behind the wheel as a dangerous activity. Despite knowing it is unsafe, 75 percent of respondents reported that they had texted while driving. There is clearly a disconnect between having safety information and making safe decisions. The difference may be rationalization.

It is human nature to overestimate our own abilities. A large majority of drivers believe they are better than average. This carries over to a number of risky behaviors. While a driver might admit that texting behind the wheel is dangerous, in general. That same driver might believe he or she has the special ability to multi-task safely. In reality, only a tiny percentage of people are capable of multi-tasking effectively. It is far wiser to assume you are not one of those people and focus on safe driving.

Perhaps the problem is that people do not recognize what it can mean to get into an accident until it is too late. When you’ve seen what a serious car accident can do to an individual and his or her family, you might be inclined to make safe driving a priority. The victims of car accidents face tremendous obstacles, even if they are lucky enough to make a full recovery. No text message is worth that pain.

Source: Victorville Daily Press, “California Teen Safe Driving Week kicks off Distracted Driving Awareness Month,” by Staff Reports, 2 April 2015

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