In an age where 95 percent of Americans own cell phones, distracted driving means more than just fiddling with the radio or trying to calm down screaming toddlers in the back seat. And the fact is, distracted driving is a killer, claiming 3,477 lives and injuring more than 391,000 people in 2015 alone.
Distracted driving is defined as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” It’s probably no surprise to you that texting and cell phone use top the list of causes. Here are some other examples of distracted driving:
- Using cell phones and smartphones
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigational system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting the radio / CD player / MP3 player
The harsh reality is that as cell phone use has grown, so has the number of deaths and injuries related to distracted driving. We’ve compiled some key facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to help you learn about distracted driving and do your part in preventing it.
Stats About Distracted Driving
- At any given time in the United States, some 660,000 drivers are using their cell phones.
- At time of crash, teens were the largest age group reported to be distracted.
- A recent survey shows survey found that one-third of drivers admitted to texting while driving and three-quarters of drivers say they’ve seen others do it.
- 10 percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes and 14 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015 were reported as crashes related to distraction.
- Each day in the U.S., 9 people are killed and more than 1000 are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
What’s Being Done About It
In the U.S., most states have laws in place that try to stop texting while driving. Some states have gone beyond that, implementing stricter laws. For example, in 2017, Iowa enacted a law that allows police to pull over distracted drivers simply for being on their phones. Previously, a person needed to commit a driving infraction before they could be pulled over for texting.
Other states, like Arkansas, District of Columbia, North Dakota and Washington have heavily increased fines for distracted driving.
Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Vermont are focusing on laws that protect teen drivers, such as adding distracted driving dangers to the drivers education curriculum and passing laws that prohibit the use of cell phones in school zones.
The bottom line? There’s nothing more important than arriving at your destination safely. When you’re driving, just drive. Put your phone in the back seat where you won’t be tempted to look at it. Adjust your music before you start driving so you don’t have to fumble with radio stations, iPods or adapter cords. Use car time to think, chat with family members, and most importantly, focus on the road. There’s a lot to enjoy out there, and your cell phone will be waiting for you as soon as your vehicle is in park.