SAN DIEGO — Distracted driving is nearly as deadly as driving under the influence and now during National Distracted Driver Awareness Month, there’s a new push to make using your phone behind the wheel as taboo as drunk driving. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving killed more than 3,000 people in 2020 — an increase of 12%. That’s an average of nine lives lost each day.

Whether it’s texting, checking an email, GPS or trying to grab your phone will you drive, the consequence can be deadly. While there is smartphone technology meant to prevent distracted driving, most drivers don’t use it. In fact, a new survey found 81% of drivers say they know about the “driving focus features” on their phones which restrict calls and texts while driving, but 54% of those same drivers don’t turn them on.

Jim Jones was nearly killed by a 19-year-old man who admitted to using his phone to talk with his girlfriend when he slammed into Jones. His family was told he would never walk again and would have the mental capacity of a 5-year-old after suffering a traumatic brain injury. He’s sharing his story to get people to think twice.

“If we shout loud enough and long enough maybe we can reach some people,” Jones said Wednesday. “Too many people feel very empowered behind that wheel, feel that that’s not going to happen to them, that they’re in control. They don’t think about the distraction, what might happened being distracted. And then after it happens, they feel terrible.”