A survey of more than 1,000 Washington, D.C., area drivers who travel the Interstate 395 corridor shows that motorists self-report engaging in a number of distractions while behind the wheel. Following the survey findings, Transurban, operator of the 495 and 95 Express Lanes, and the Virginia Department of Transportation announced today the launch of a “Orange Cones. No Phones.” campaign to reduce distracted driving within the 395 Express Lanes work zone.
“We focus on safety on the Express Lanes and in the 395 Express Lanes work zone every day,” said Jennifer Aument, president, North America, Transurban. “We need the help of drivers to create a safer work zone to ensure on-road construction crews and other travelers are getting where they need to go safely.”
The top three cellphone distractions reported among area motorists were using a phone to talk, checking GPS or travel planning, and reading a text message. Despite growing research that finds holding a conversation on a cellphone is still dangerously distracting*, more than half of area drivers report feeling unconcerned about using their phones to talk while behind the wheel. The “Orange Cones. No Phones.” campaign aims to improve safety by reducing distracted driving within the 395 Express Lanes work zone.
“In 2017, distracted driving accounted for almost 25 percent of traffic fatalities,” said Shannon Valentine, Virginia Secretary of Transportation. “In work zones alone, VDOT recorded 2,666 crashes resulting in 1,329 injuries and 12 fatalities. The lives lost were completely preventable. We must continue to engage the public about the dangers of distracted driving. The ‘Orange Cones. No Phones.’ campaign is an important component to help deliver safety on our roads and reduce incidents.”
Checking a cellphone or sending a text using voice commands at seemingly safe moments such as when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection also has been found to be dangerous behavior. According to a Study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, these types of potentially unsafe mental distractions can affect motorists’ attention for as long as 27 seconds, which is equivalent to traveling the length of nearly three football fields at a speed of 25 miles per hour.
As part of the “Orange Cones. No Phones.” campaign, the partners are implementing a number of tactics supported by the study’s findings, industry data and best practices to improve safety for all drivers:
• “Orange Cones. No Phones.” signs will be visible throughout the 395 Express Lanes construction corridor.
• The Virginia State Police presence will be increased in the 395 corridor.
• Advertisements will remind drivers to travel safely and not to drive while distracted.
• Press throughout the region will be engaged to help increase awareness with drivers around this important safety message.
By Prince William Living