Distracted driving – everybody’s talking about it, what is it, and how do we stop it?
Facts About Distracted Driving
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
* Nine people are killed, and more than 1,000 people are injured in car wrecks that were reported to involve a distracted driver every day in the United States.
* Distractions include taking your eyes off the road; taking your hands off the wheel; and taking your mind off what you are doing.
- In a recent year, more than 3,400 people died in car accidents that were reported to involve a distracted driver, and another 448,000 people were injured.
- Among those killed or injured in these crashes, nearly 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries included cell phone use as the major distraction.
- The proportion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of a fatal crash has increased every year.
- *25% of drivers in the United States reported that they “regularly or fairly often” talk on their cell phones while driving.
*75% of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 29 reported that they spoke on their cell phone while driving at least once in the past 30 days, and nearly 40% reported that they talk on their cell phone “regularly” or “fairly often” while driving. For more on teenage driver’s distraction, view our teenage distracted driver infographic.
*52% of U.S. drivers ages 18-29 reported texting or e-mailing while driving at least once in the last 30 days, and more than a quarter report texting or e-mailing “regularly” or “fairly often” while driving.
* Distracted driving is the leading cause of accidents in the United States. A fatal car accident occurs many times every day due to distracted driving.
Three Main Distractions
Distracted driving is defined as driving while your attention is diverted away from driving. There are three main distractions for drivers; they are:
* Visual distractions
* Manual distractions and
* Cognitive distractions
Visual distractions are the easiest to understand, and they are activities that divert your eyes off of the road and onto something else. Such as looking at a text or even interacting with another passenger.
Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the wheel to tend to other activities such as eating or drinking or adjusting the radio.
Cognitive distractions can be things like daydreaming or taking your mind off driving.
Many sources can lead to distracted driving.
From adjusting the radio, inputting an address into a GPS, turning to speak to a passenger or to tend to a child all can lead to a severe accident if you are not careful.
The problem of distracted driving is significant and has increased in the last 15 years with technology. Today our society is one that is “connected” and has increased the number of car accidents because of distractions related to distracted driving.
Last year alone, almost 20% of the injury accidents are from distracted driving. To give you an idea of how connected our society is, more than 200 billion text messages are exchanged in the United States each month!
Most Americans are aware of how dangerous driving can be while behind the wheels of the vehicle. The problem is so prevalent that numerous ad campaigns speak on the potentially hazardous environment that is created by drunk driving.
However, what many may not be aware of is that distracted driving can often be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Any activity that pulls one’s attention away from the road, such as:
- Texting or Talking on the phone
- Talking to other passengers
- Eating and drinking
- Utilizing a system within the car (video, CD player, etc.)
Younger Drivers are More Susceptible to Distracted Driving
Studies have shown that younger drivers under the age of 20 are at an increased risk of accidents by distraction and also have the highest percentage of distracted-related fatal accidents.
Please watch where you are going – you may not get a second chance to make the unfortunate decision to drive distracted.
It stands to reason that the group that is most at risk, according to the National Traffic Safety Administration, is drivers that are under 25 years of age. This group is 3% as more likely than older, established drivers, to text while driving.
This can largely be attributed to the type of interconnected mentality that has developed, which is primarily based on the usage of technology. Younger drivers want to access smartphones to send text messages, listen to music, or log onto social media sites – all while behind the wheel of a vehicle. In fact, according to the research, while 95% of drivers over the age of 45 felt that text was “very unsafe” while driving, only 60% of drivers that were within the ages to 18-20 age bracket thought that it was not okay to send a text while driving.
Take the Focused Driver Pledge!
I pledge to Just Drive for my safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose not to drive distracted in any way – I will not:
- Have a phone conversation – handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
- Text or send Snapchats
- Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
- Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo or other social media
- Check or send emails
- Take selfies or film videos
- Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
- Call or message someone else when I know they are driving
It stands to reason that the group that is most at risk, according to the National Traffic Safety Administration, is drivers that are under 25 years of age. This group is 3% as more likely than older, established drivers, to text while driving. Almost 3500 teen drivers were killed last year in auto accidents. If you have been in an accident with a texting driver, speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Wired life is related to the type of interconnected mentality that has developed, which is primarily based on the usage of technology. Younger drivers want to access smartphones to send text messages, listen to music, or log onto social media sites – all while behind the wheel of a vehicle. In fact, according to the research, while 95% of drivers over the age of 45 felt that text was “very unsafe” while driving, only 60% of drivers that were within the ages to 18-20 age bracket thought that it was not okay to send a text while driving.
Hundreds of BILLIONS of texts are sent per month in the United States alone. With the mass amount of communication and the potential for other distraction-related activities, it is understandable that many drivers may feel that tearing their eyes away from the road, even briefly, is an acceptable practice.
However, as the research points out, five seconds is the typical amount of time that one takes their eyes off the road when engaging in a distraction-based activity, such as sending a text message. While this may not seem like a long time, this is the equivalent of covering one football length while driving at 55 mph.
In short, distracted driving is simply not worth it, and many of these activities, such as talking on the phone or text messaging, can simply be put on hold until you arrive at your destination.
Distracted Driving Can be as Dangerous as Drunk Driving
Americans are aware of how dangerous driving drunk can be while behind the wheels of the vehicle. The problem is so prevalent that numerous ad campaigns speak on the potentially hazardous environment that is created by drunk driving.
However, what many may not be aware of is that distracted driving can often be just as dangerous as drunk driving. While drunk drivers tend to be unable to react timely or make good decisions, taking your eyes off the road can put you in as dangerous a position.
Suggestions to Avoid Distracted Driving
There are also many ways one can prevent distracted driving, such as:
- Make any potential adjustments, such as inputting addresses in a GPS, turning mirrors, adjusting climate controls, and so forth, before one enters the vehicle. It is also imperative that one has a clear idea of the route they will take, along with all traffic and weather conditions.
- Ensure that the floor is free of loose items, which could potentially roll around and cause the driver to reach for them to remove them away from the pedals.
- One should finish grooming, such as brushing hair, putting on makeup, etc. before they leave the house. This should not be done in the car, as it can be extremely distracting.
- If possible, one should eat before they leave before or after being on the road. On the road, if eating is unavoidable, food should not be messy as this could potentially distract the driver.
- Children and pets should be secured before driving. Attempting to reach in the backseat can cause severe consequences as it has the potential to force one to lose control of the vehicle while driving.
- Electronic devices, especially cell phones, should not be used while driving. Even hands-free cell phone use has been scientifically proven to have a similar impact on texting while driving.
- While it is natural to adjust the radio while driving, this should not be done if it takes one’s eyes from the road at any time whatsoever.
- When possible, one should use passengers to make calls, text, or do other activities that would take one’s eyes away from the road. Additionally, passengers can also alleviate other distractions as well.
As mentioned, above all else, one should cut back on any activity, no matter how minor, that distracts them from the road!
Although distracting driving is impossible to prevent completely, there is a great deal one can do to limit them. In doing so, one also ensures that they can then focus on the road and prevent potential accidents from occurring.
Put your phone down- it really can wait!