Distracted Driving: A Growing Epidemic

Written by Blaine Teets

On April 9, 2018

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Center for Statistics and Analysis states:  “each day in the US, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) breaks down distractions into 3 types:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive:  taking your mind off of driving
Understanding Distraction

Infographic about distracted driving and what constitutes a distraction.

In 2015 alone, distracted driving was responsible for:

  • 3,477 total deaths.
  • 3,196 fatal car wrecks.
  • 391,000 injuries.

NOTE:  Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.

 

Key Studies and Statistics (as of 2016):

  • Over 8 people are killed each day, and 1,161 are injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver.
  • Based on the miles drivers are distracted on the road each year, Americans could take 5 million trips around the world without looking up from their phones.
  • Driving while using a cell phone leads to impairments as significant as driving drunk (with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%).
  • At any moment during the day, there are over 660,000 drivers operating cars while using handheld cell phones.
  • Hands-free is not risk-free. Drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones are 4 times as likely to be in an accident.
  • One out of every 4 accidents involve a cell phone.
  • About 87% of drivers admitted to engaging in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel. Nearly 42% admit to reading a text message or email behind the wheel, and 32% admit to typing or sending a text in the last month before surveyed.
  • Missing sleep is also dangerous. Missing 1-2 hours of sleep doubles your crash risk.

 

“It Can Wait” Campaign

As with any epidemic, raising awareness on the problem at hand and education are key ingredients to yield any type of success. Recently, the NHTSA launched a campaign called, “It Can Wait” urging drivers to resist the itch to text from behind the wheel. Here, people can take the pledge or become an advocate for the cause. Also, there are multiple resources available for download in efforts to spread awareness. You can find them here:  https://www.itcanwait.com/links

It Can Wait

How Distracted Driving is Affecting Insurance Rates

For many Americans, the costs associated with owning vehicle can be a concern. One of the biggest expenses is Auto Insurance. People don’t realize that claims are on the rise; which ultimately is leading to a rise in auto insurance rates. There are many factors that contribute to accidents, but one of the main ingredients is DISTRACTED DRIVING. Keep in mind, accidents often go unreported, but claims can still be submitted to insurance. It’s an intriguing question to ask, “How many unreported accidents or claims were filed due to distracted driving?”

Flow Chart

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