Distracted driving, it’s not just texting or making calls on a cell phone; it’s any activity that diverts a driver’s attention puts that driver, and his/her passengers, and everyone else sharing the road at serious risk. What is considered a distraction includes things like using a cell phone, texting, eating, smoking, attending to children, grooming, reading, using navigation systems, watching videos, adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player or adjusting temperature controls.
The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. One out of every four accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. Researchers found that talking on a cell phone quadruples your risk of an accident, about the same as if you were driving drunk. That risk doubles again if you are texting.
According to the NHTSA, over 3,331 people were killed and over 387,000 injured in motor vehicle accidents connected to distracted driving. That represents 10 percent of all fatal crashes and 17 percent of all accidents that caused injuries. And, young drivers are at the greatest risk for distracted driving incidents. The NHTSA says that 16 percent of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were reported to have been distracted. 11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving. Teen drivers are 4x more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone. A teen driver with only one additional passenger doubles the risk of getting into a fatal car accident. With two or more passengers, they are 5x as likely.
The problem is the surveys find that adults recognize that other drivers are behaving irresponsibly, but they find excuses for their own distracted driving. A survey found that over 90 percent of drivers recognized the danger from cell phone distractions and found it “unacceptable” that drivers text or send e-mail while driving. Nevertheless, 35 percent of these same people admitted to having read or sent a text message or e-mail while driving. Similarly, two-thirds of the survey respondents admitted to talking on a cell phone, even though 88 percent found it a threat to safety.
10 Distracted Driving Tips
- Turn it off – Turn off your notifications so you won’t be tempted to answer while you’re driving
- Put your phone out of reach – Put your phone so that you won’t be tempted to call or text
- Designate a passenger – Passengers can do the texting for you
- Use your cell phone for emergencies only
- Download an app – Download one of your favorite apps and forget about texting while you drive
- Set your GPS before you hit the road
- Focus on your driving – try to avoid activities that take your mind and your eyes off of the road
- Pull off if you need to make a call – find a safe shoulder or parking lot
- Set and outgoing message – tell callers you’re driving and will call them back
- Keep your passengers to a minimum – Teen drivers shouldn’t have more than one passenger in the car