Distracted Driving – Noun
The practice of driving a motor vehicle while engaged in another activity, typically one that involves the use of a cellular phone or other electronic device.
All distractions compromise the safety of the driver, passengers, bystanders and those in other vehicles. The United States Department of Transportation issued this statement regarding Distracted Driving: “Text messaging while driving creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving while not distracted.” Despite these statistics, more than 37% of drivers have admitted to sending or receiving text messages while driving, and 18% admit doing so regularly.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each day in the United States alone, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Distracted driving can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.
There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.
Distracted driving activities include things like using a cell phone, texting, looking after children, talking to a passenger, watching videos, eating, or reading. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.
A CDC study analyzed 2011 data on distracted driving, including talking on a cell phone or reading or sending texts or emails behind the wheel. The researchers compared the prevalence of talking on a cell phone or texting or emailing while driving in the United States and seven European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Key findings included the following:
Talking on a cell phone while driving
69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed.
In Europe, this percentage ranged from 21% in the United Kingdom to 59% in Portugal.
Texting or emailing while driving
31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed.
In Europe, this percentage ranged from 15% in Spain to 31% in Portugal.
www.Distraction.gov is a government website dedicated to the issue of Distracted Driving. Many resources can be found at this website, including testimonials from Distracted Driving survivors and grieving relatives of victims of Distracted Drivers, and articles about prevention and education for drivers. Another good resource is this Travelers Insurance Safety page on Distracted Drivers: Distracted Driving Statistics which includes a relevant quiz on whether YOU are a Distracted Driver. Take the quiz for yourself here: Travelers Distracted Driver Quiz.
The science is clear. Distraction can keep you from driving safely in multiple ways. Any distraction, regardless of how quick or harmless it may seem, should be avoided when you are behind the wheel. Remember to keep your eyes and brain focused on the road at all times.