EDITORS: B-Roll footage of the walk is at https://vimeo.com/364529832 (Please credit Auto Club of Southern California)
More than 2,000 people took steps to save lives today by taking part in a walk to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The second annual Walk to End Distracted Driving, along Shoreline Marina in Long Beach, was part of the Auto Club’s traffic safety initiative called, “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” Participants included Auto Club members, employees, law enforcement, traffic safety advocates, families impacted by distracted driving, and the public.
“Our goal is to save lives and prevent injuries by putting an end to texting, emailing, programming GPS, searching for music and updating social media on smartphones, all while driving,” said Auto Club President and CEO John Boyle. “We are committed to accomplishing this by reminding all drivers that using a smartphone when behind the wheel can result in the same tragedies as impaired driving,” he said.
The event began with a ceremony at Marina Green Park, which included remarks by Auto Club President & CEO John Boyle, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) President and CEO Rick Birt and Tony Lorenzo, who lost his two nieces in April of this year. Police say a truck driver, distracted by YouTube videos on his smartphone, ran over the young girls as they were in a crosswalk heading to school in South Los Angeles. The girls’ family said 14-year-old Marlene Lorenzo and 12-year-old Amy Lorenzo were dedicated to their school and their church singing group. The girls’ uncle told the crowd of walkers that their absence has changed his life in so many ways.
“I want people to remember Amy and Marlene as two angels who were taken away from this world,” said the girls’ uncle Tony Lorenzo. “The most important thing I want people to remember from this walk is to think about other people’s lives when you are about to get behind the steering wheel, and don’t drive distracted by your phone,” he said.
The City of Long Beach and Mayor Robert Garcia presented the Auto Club with a proclamation declaring October 5, 2019 as a Day to Walk to End Distracted Driving.
“We are proud to support the AAA Walk to End Distracted Driving.” said Long Beach Police Department Chief of Police Robert G. Luna. “Practicing safe, undistracted driving is an effort that each of us can and should contribute to in order to protect the safety of all residents and visitors of our Long Beach community.”
Auto Club employees collected 1,009 pairs of shoes for a visual display at the walk, which represented the nine people killed and 1,000 seriously injured each day on U.S. roads because of distracted driving, according to NHTSA. Following the walk the shoes were donated to Shoes for the Homeless, Inc. The three-mile walk traveled from Marina Green Park to Shoreline Marina and back. The free event also provided food, music, games and prizes to participants.
About Distracted Driving
- Sending or reading a text takes eyes off road for an average of 5 seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded.
- Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of being involved in a crash.
- Drivers interacting with cell phones to perform tasks like texting or surfing the internet are two to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash.
- A recent Auto Club survey of adult drivers in Southern California found those who are more likely to drive ‘Intexticated’ are between 25 and 39 years old and/or those who send or receive more than 50 texts each day.
- Among those drivers who admit to driving ‘intexticated,’ nearly half (46%) say they use their smartphones for navigation.
- Other reasons people gave for driving ‘intexticated’ include searching for audio or music, because they believe people expect a quick response, and because they said using a smartphone while driving helps them be more productive.
- 10% of Southern California drivers say they’ve been in an auto crash in the last five years where they believe smartphone distraction was a factor.
- The same Auto Club survey found 1 in 10 Southern California drivers admit to regularly driving intexticated.
- Nationwide, a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey finds 4 in 10 drivers admit they drove intexticated at least once in the last month.
About “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.”
In April 2018, the Auto Club and other AAA clubs across the country launched this multi-year initiative to reduce deaths and injuries due to smartphone use by drivers. Now in its second year, the campaign aims to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as impaired driving. Through media interviews, TV and radio public service announcements, public events, branch office signage, social media and community outreach, the Auto Club continues to bring the “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” message to the public. For more information about the initiative, please visit AAA.com/DontDriveDistracted.