What is Distracted Driving?
Involves any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of a crash.
There are three important aspects of the problem – the source of the distraction, its effects on driving behavior, and the potential consequences.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver”
Types of Distraction
There are three main types of Driver Distraction:
Visual – Tasks that require the driver to look away from the roadway to visually obtain information.
Manual – Tasks that require the driver to take a hand off the steering wheel and manipulate a device
Cognitive – Tasks that are defined as the mental workload associated with a task that involves thinking about something other than the driving task.
One another type of Driver Distraction is Auditory that is caused due to hearing something not related to driving
Activities that can cause Distraction
- Using a cell phone
- Eating, drinking, or grooming
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including map reading
- Using a PDA or navigation system
- Watching a video
- Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player
- Taking care of toddlers while driving
What is the Problem[VP2] ?
- Nearly all legislation focuses on banning only handheld phones or only texting while driving.
- All state laws and many employer policies allow hands-free cell phone use.
- Public opinion polls show people recognize the risks of talking on handheld phones and texting more than they recognize the risks of hands free phones.
- Many drivers mistakenly believe talking on a hands-free cell phone is safer than handheld
Hands-free devices offer no safety benefit when driving.
Hands-free devices do not eliminate cognitive distraction.
Key Facts and Statistics
- In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. This represents a 6.7 percent decrease in the number of fatalities recorded in 2012. Unfortunately, approximately 424,000 people were injured, which is an increase from the 421,000 people who were injured in 2012.
- 10% of drivers of all ages under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
- Drivers in there 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes[VP3] .
- At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones[VP4] or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010
- Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times[VP5]
- Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use[VP6] .
- A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving[VP7] .
Effort by Government to curb Driver Distraction
According to the report “2013 Distracted Driving: Survey of the States “released by The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) its evident that more states are enacting and enforcing laws related to driver distraction.
Some of the key findings of this report were:
- All the states continue to pass distracted driving laws.
- States are making efforts to enforce the laws.
- States are using social media and are leveraging the technology in order to educate the drivers.
- States are giving focus to the teen drivers who are at the highest crash risk.
- States have recognized the power of partnering with other public and private firms to reinforce safety guidelines.
- States have improved their data collection practices so that they can better determine the magnitude of the problem.
[VP2]National Safety Council. Public Calls to Reduce Distraction. (2010). Retrieved from
http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Documents/Public Opinion Fact Sheet.pdf
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. (2008). Cell Phones and Driving: Research Update
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