One of the biggest hidden dangers on the modern roadway isn’t the vehicle that someone is driving, but the driver who is behind the wheel. When a driver is distracted, their attention is 100% on the road. This means it is easier for something bad to happen! Any distraction can endanger everyone around.
The most dangerous form of distracted driving is texting because it diverts a driver’s full attention from the road for seconds at a time.
Distracted Driving Facts
It is important to designate that distracted driving is different from drowsy driving. Being tired does provide a distraction, but fatigue has been included from these facts. To prevent drowsiness, it is important to pull over and rest periodically. To prevent distractions, it is important to avoid anything that can take a driver’s attention away from the road.
- More than 3,000 people are killed every year because of distracted driving and over 400k people are injured in accidents caused by distracted drivers.
- The amount of injuries caused by distracted driving has increased by 9% since 2011.
- Every month, there are over 170 billion text messages that are sent in the United States alone and not all of them are from people who are at home.
- For drivers who are under the age of 20 and involved in a fatal crash, 10% of the drivers were reportedly distracted by something at the time of the accident.
- Drivers in their 20s make up 27% of the distracted drivers that are involved in fatal crashes.
- On any given moment during the day, there are estimated to be nearly 700k drivers who are either talking on their cell phone or using some electronic device while they drive. This number has been steady for the last 4 years.
- When texting, the average person looks at their phone for 5 seconds. In that time, while driving 55mph, a vehicle can cover the length of an entire football field.
The dangers of distracted driving are clear, yet people still multitask in their vehicle because they feel like nothing is going to happen. Something serious like texting while driving will have campaigns created to prevent it, and rightly so, but what about a distraction like eating? Or reaching down to grab a soda or energy drink? Even trying to change the radio station is a distraction! Whenever a distraction happens, the chance for something bad to happen increases. That’s something to think about the next time you get behind the wheel.
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- In California, it is estimated that 8 out of every 10 accidents that occurs happens because of at least one distracted driver.
- It is also estimated that 65% of the near accidents that happen every day involve distracted drivers.
- The #1 distraction according to studies from the VTTI and NHTSA is using a cell phone. Reaching for a moving object in a vehicle, looking at something besides the roadway, and reading while driving are also major distractions. Rounding out the top 5 is applying makeup.
- Cell phone use has been reported in 18% of distraction-related fatalities that happen on American roadways.
- 31% of drivers between the ages of 18-64 reported that they had sent a text message or an email while driving at least once in the last 30 days. This is comparable to statistics from Portugal, which are the worst in all of Europe.
- Nearly half of all American high school students older than the age of 16 text or email while driving.
- Students who text and drive are five times more likely to drink and drive than those who actively pursue avoiding distractions while behind the wheel.
- Just one text while driving makes an accident 23 times more likely to happen.
The issue of distracted driving does occur around the world, but Americans lead the rest of the world in making it a problem. Countries like Spain and the United Kingdom of dramatically lower rates of these issues. What is the difference? There are two points of emphasis: education and enforcement. When the penalty for talking on a cell phone is just a few bucks, it isn’t much of a deterrent. If it means that someone loses their driver’s license for three months, however, on the first offense, then it is less tempting to pick up the phone and check a text, send an email, or return a call. Adding in early education about the dangers of taking eyes off of the road and things can change.
What is Being Done to Stop Distracted Driving Today?
- Many states have enacted laws that make texting while driving an offense that can allow an officer to pull the car over.
- Graduated driver’s license systems for teen drivers help to raise awareness.
- An executive order was issued to prohibit texting while driving for government employees who are driving on business or using government equipment.
- There is a band that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.
- Hands-free laws have been enacted in many states, although headset conversations have shown to be as distracting as a hands-free conversation.
- 82% of teens who first get their driver’s license have a cell phone that they carry with them while in the vehicle they are driving.
Although measures have been put into place to stop distracted driving, at best the statistics show that these efforts have simply maintained the status quo. Something different must be done to get these statistics lower and that won’t happen when kids and adults don’t see it as a problem. 77% of teens believe they can safely text and drive. More than half of teen drivers say it is easy to text and drive without a problem. It’s easy to blame the kids, but the parents do it too. 1 out of every 2 kids says they have seen their parents driving while distracted and 20% of all drivers admit to surfing the internet. Until the perspective changes, no true change can happen.