On a daily basis, more than 15 individuals are subject to fatality as a result of either being distracted or being involved in a traffic accident with another distracted driver on the road. Distracted driving is defined as operating a motor vehicle while simultaneously engaging in focusing your attention elsewhere, such as on gadgets like cell phones, eating, or applying makeup.
The primary distractions that can raise the likelihood of a traffic accident or crash are most common among the following:
- Visual: a distraction of this nature is anything that requires the driver to take his or her eyes away from the road.
- Manual: these distractions involve the driver removing his or her hands from the steering wheel.
- Cognitive: any distraction that forces the driver to think about something other than driving safely.
In addition to traditional distractions, recent years have seen vehicles coming equipped with more and more technology, such as GPS navigational systems and radios which can be combined with personal music players. While all of these things can be distracting, the most dangerous activity that can distract drivers is generally considered to be text messaging.
Distracted Driving Facts and Statistics
- More than 5,400 individuals suffered a fatal car crash in 2009 in which distraction was indicated to play a major part in the event. An additional 448,000 drivers and passengers were also injured.
- The use of cell phone technology was reported to be involved in approximately 1,000 of these deaths, as well as 24,000 additional injuries.
- The amount of vehicle operators that have been reported as having been distracted at the time of a car crash that resulted in death has risen a reported 5 percent in 2009 since 2005. The total percentage is 11 percent.
- When drivers were asked their opinion on the state of current driving conditions, whether they less endangered, more endangered or no difference in the past 5 years, about 33 percent stated that they felt more endangered. The most stated reason for this was the current trend of distracted driving, an answer given by 30 percent of participants.
Distracted Driving: Study and Analysis
A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed the rate of occurrence for two of the primary causes of distracted driving, namely, speaking or texting on a cell phone. This analysis was performed in the United States as well as several European countries and resulted in a number of conclusions:
- One-quarter of vehicle operators in the U.S. were found to have used cell phones while driving either regularly or reasonably often.
- European numbers were slightly-to-dramatically lower, with the highest percentage reporting regular cell phone use while driving was in the Netherlands at 21 percent, and drivers in the United Kingdom reporting at 3 percent.
- Three-quarters of young drivers in the U.S., ages ranging from 18-29, have admitted to speaking on a cell phone at the same time as driving over a period of one month. 40 percent of these individuals claimed to do so regularly.
- Young European drivers racked up higher percentages, with 30 percent of drivers aged 18-29 using a cell phone while driving over the course of 30 days, to as much as half of all Portuguese drivers in this age bracket.
SMS and Email While Driving
- Drivers in the U.S. that reportedly send text messages or emails while driving was 9 percent.
- European drivers again found the most difference in these figures between the Netherlands and the U.K., reporting in at 10 and 1 percent, respectively.
- Over half of the young drivers in the U.S., again aged 18-29, have claimed to send text messages or emails at the same time as driving at least once per month, and over 25 percent stated to so frequently.
- Young European drivers within this age bracket who stated that they sent text messages or emailed while driving ranged from 44 to 17 percent, in Portugal and the U.K., respectively.
High-Risk Drivers and Prevention of Distracted Driving
The activity of sending a text message or an email while driving can be highly distracting, particularly for inexperienced and usually quite young drivers. Drivers under the age of 20 are reported to be within the age bracket that suffers from the most deaths in car accidents as a direct result of being distracted.
Prevention has already begun in many states in which sending text messages or emails while driving has been made illegal. Furthermore, some states have also implemented a “graduated” licensing procedure for teens, so that young drivers can be better educated on the dangers of distracted driving.
In 2009, President Barack Obama mandated through an executive order that all federal workers were to be prohibited from sending text messages while operating a vehicle for government business. Additionally, in 2010 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration banned commercial drivers sending text messages or emails while operating their vehicle.