Distracted Driving

Cell phone in front of steering wheelDistracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. It is well established that all distractions endanger safety.

Some Types of Distractions Include:

  • Texting
  • Making phone calls
  • Browsing the internet on smartphone
  • Reading
  • Watching videos
  • Social media
  • Adjusting radio, CD player, YouTube, internet radio
  • Using a navigation system
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming
  • Talking to passengers
  • Taking selfies
  • Changing clothes
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Romantic encounters
  • Putting in contact lenses or eye drops

Driver distractions such as texting that require visual, manual, and cognitive attention tend the be the most dangerous. The prevalence of conduct also contributes to danger. At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. See U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s April 2013 report: Driver Electronic Device Use in 2011.

One of many alarming statistics is the number of non-occupants killed in reported distracted driving cases. In 2013, four hundred and eighty (480) non-occupants were killed in reported distracted driving cases. See U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s April 2015 report: Traffic Safety Facts. Non-occupants include pedestrians and bicyclists. Pedestrians and bicyclists are particularly vulnerable to distracted drivers as the slightest distraction can cause tremendous harm when drivers veer off the road.

The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), is conducted annually by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NOPUS is the only nationwide probability-based observational survey of driver electronic device use in the United States. The study observes usage as it occurs at randomly selected roadway sites and thus provides the best tracking of the extent to which people in the United States use cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. The survey data is collected by trained data collectors at probabilistically sampled intersections controlled by stop signs or stoplights, where data collectors observe, from the roadside, drivers and other occupants of passenger vehicles having no commercial or government markings.

Graph of Distracted drivers by age

The percentages of drivers visibly manipulating hand-held devices while driving between the ages of 16–24 are significantly higher than other age groups. Moreover, this age group has seen the sharpest increase in recent years. This statistic is particularly troubling given this age group is the most inexperienced group of drivers.

Distracted driving is an entirely preventable danger. Commit to being a safe, distraction-free driver. Print out the pledge form, fill it in and keep it in your car as a reminder to stay off the phone when you’re driving.