What is distracted driving?
Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road.
Distractions may include texting; using a cell phone or smartphone; eating and drinking; talking to passengers; grooming; reading, including maps; using a navigation system; watching a video; adjusting a radio, CD player, or music player; billboards and signs; scenery; other vehicles; pedestrians; reaching for something; and controlling children or pets.
Why the concern about distracted driving?
- In the U.S., the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows over 3,300 people were killed and more than 387,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents connected to distracted driving.
- According to AAA Foundation research, 94% of teens know the dangers of texting and driving—and 35% admit doing it anyway.
- NHTSA statistics show that in more than 10% of all fatal crashes with drivers 15 to 19 years old, they were distracted. For drivers in their 20s, it jumps to 23%.
- Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
- The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
Because text messaging requires so much attention from the driver, it is a significant distraction.
The NSC debunks 5 myths:
Myth 1: Drivers can multitask.
Reality: The human brain cannot do two things at the same time—like watch TV and hold a phone conversation. The same is true when driving and talking on your phone. The brain switches between the two tasks, which slows reaction time.
Myth 2: Talking to someone on a cell phone is no different than talking to a passenger.
Reality: Backseat drivers are good for you. Adult passengers help the driver and alert drivers to traffic problems. People on the other end of phones can’t see what’s going on!
Myth 3: Speaking hands-free is safe to do while driving.
Reality: Drivers talking on cell phones can miss seeing up to 50% of their driving environments, including pedestrians and red lights.
Myth 4: I only use my phone at stop lights so it’s OK.
Reality: Even at stop lights, it is important to remain an attentive driver. For example, a recent AAA study shows that people are distracted up to 27 seconds after they finish sending a voice text.
Myth 5: Voice-to-text is safe to do while driving.
Reality: It is actually still very distracting. You’re not only mentally distracted, but you’re visually distracted due to the common autocorrect errors.