In the interest of our safety, ‘Just Drive’

By Gina Fiandaca
Special to the Reporter

Glancing at that new text message on your phone. Scrolling through satellite radio stations to find the right song. Adjusting your GPS to find a new route.  Any of these activities momentarily takes your attention away from driving, making you are a distracted driver.

Every year, there are thousands of crashes caused by distracted driving, resulting in many lives lost and many more lives dramatically changed from long-term injuries.

While many of us understand the danger of using our phones while we drive, we still do it. Today, I ask you to join me in pledging to “Just Drive.” Make this promise to yourself, to your family members, and to your neighbors:

When you are driving, you’ll focus on driving and only on driving; when you’re a passenger, you’ll offer to help the driver; if he’s driving distracted, you’ll say something; you’ll encourage your family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to drive phone-free.

Need help breaking your habits? Try putting your phone in a place where you can’t reach it while driving – the glove box, the back seat, or even the trunk. If you need to keep it nearby, turn off notifications, including any banners or noises from your messaging apps. Or, hand your phone to your passenger.

When you get in the driver’s seat, set up your navigation software before you put the car into drive. If you need to update your directions or check a map, pull into a parking spot where you can safely do so. If you have a passenger, ask her to help.

Traveling with kids or pets? Keep them safe and give them your full attention by pulling into a parking spot before addressing any situations.
And if you’re not driving, offer to help out the person who is.

The top priority in Boston’s long-term transportation plan, Go Boston 2030, is increasing safety on our streets. We are working toward Vision Zero: the elimination of fatal and serious traffic crashes by 2030. In the city’s proposed operating budget and capital plan, Mayor Walsh is dedicating even more resources to make our streets safer for everyone using them. Under his leadership, we’re proposing the following additions to the Boston Transportation Department:

• Two new transportation planners and two new transportation engineers to focus on designing and implementing key Vision Zero street improvements

• Up to four new maintenance and operations personnel to ensure that infrastructure added to improve street safety, such as pedestrian delineators and flex posts, are kept in a state of good repair.

• A new traffic signal engineer to manage and re-time traffic signals to increase safety and reduce traffic congestion;

• Two new traffic signal mechanics to keep signals working as designed; and

• An increase of $700,000 to design and build high-quality bike infrastructure and new multi-use paths.

These proposed investments build on the existing investments we make in transportation safety as an everyday practice and through our major projects.

Our goal of eliminating serious and fatal traffic crashes cannot be accomplished without your help. Take the pledge today to “Just Drive”
Gina Fiandaca is the commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department.