Stay focused and avoid distractions while behind the wheel.  That's the message from AAA Mid-Atlantic as it kicks off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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"Society has associated distracted driving primarily with text messaging and cell phone use but the reality is distraction can occur with any activity that diverts motorists' eyes from the road, their hands off the wheel and their mind off the primary task of driving," said Tracy Noble, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AA Mid-Atlantic.  "Driving distractions range from eating and drinking, to personal grooming to what is considered the most dangerous distraction, text messaging, as it involves visual, manual and cognitive engagement."

In 2010, nearly 10 percent of all fatal crashes and 18 percent of crashes resulting in injuries were attributed to distracted driving according to the National Highway Safety Administration.  NHTSA reported that these crashes resulted in 416,000 injuries and 3,092 deaths.

In a recent poll of New Jersey motorists, AAA Clubs of New Jersey found that drivers recognize the dangers of distracted driving but have not yet changed their own driving habits.  "People continue to have a 'do as I say not as I do attitude' when it comes to distracted driving, but the simple fact is distracted driving is dangerous driving," said Noble.

More than two thirds of drivers, or 68 percent, surveyed in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index reported talking on their cell phone while driving in the past month and nearly one in three, 31 percent, say they do so fairly often or regularly.

The study also found that 35 percent of drivers admitted to reading a text or email while driving in the past 30 days and 26 percent admitted sending a message while behind the wheel in the past month.