SAN FRANCISCO — Dashboard dining is distracting drivers, San Francisco Department of Public Health officials warn.
A DPH study shows that eating and drinking while driving – along with cell phone use, tuning the radio and disciplining children – is keeping drivers from paying attention to the real reason they’re in the car.
And those distractions are causing drivers to run through red lights, resulting in accidents and injuries.
More than 25,000 citations were issued by San Francisco Police last year for red light running alone.
A recent AAA crash study supports the DPH findings. AAA found that nearly 19 percent of distracted drivers were eating or drinking.
As a busy lunch hour rush of cars flew past, horns blaring, brakes squealing, a new campaign aimed at getting drivers to pay attention and slow down at red lights was announced Tuesday by DPH’s Larry Meredith, Director for Community Health Promotion and Prevention.
Meredith stood in front of a Burger King drive-through on Van Ness Street as he announced DPH’s new campaign focused on driving distractions and aggressive driving.
The campaign will be spashed across the city on 50 billboards, 1,500 street signs, postcards and a Web site.
and more – all with the message “Stop at the red. You’ll only kill a few seconds.” One postcard shows a man behind the wheel cramming fast-food fries into his mouth.
“The campaign reframes the red light from that of an obstruction and source of frustration to that of an opportunity to relax, calm down and take a sip of your drink,” Meredith said.
“We want people to be more aware that driving takes precedence over anything else they’re doing while in their vehicle and moving.”
But whether the ad campaign will promote better driving practices among drivers in the fast lane of the fast-paced city remains to be seen.
At least one driver doesn’t think so.
“People are going to do whatever they want to do – unless they have a cop riding in the car. And I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said Eric Stevenson, a driver on his lunch break downtown.
Stevenson said the city could use the money spent on the billboards to instead put more cops on the street.
On the Net:
DPH’s STOP red light running campaign: http://www.redlightrunning.org