Distracted driving endangers not only those behind the wheel but also their passengers, fellow road occupants and pedestrians. ln fact, drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, a statistic that has led to them being banned in 11 states.
The consequences of distracted driving can also be tragic. Teen drivers are more likely than any other age group to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction was cited.
Although texting while driving (TWD) poses an enormous crash risk, with young adults listed as the most notorious offenders, it surprisingly did not claim the top spot on the insureds list.
10. Smoking-related (includes smoking, lighting up, putting ashes in tray)
Of the more than 65,000 people killed in car crashes over the past two years, one in 10 crashes involved at least
one distracted driver, according to police report data. Data from 2010 and 2011 police reports listed the majority of drivers who were distracted as “generally distracted” or “lost in thought.”
Distracted driving is any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your
primary task of driving safely,
When reviewing law enforcement officers’ notes in crash reports involving at least one fatality, it was found that 1 percent cited smoking, including gestures related to lighting up and putting ashes in the car’s tray.
9. Moving objects (pets or insects)
Dog owners know the perils of an agitated or overexcited Fido all too well. About 1 percent of police reports
alluded to “moving objects.”
This data on distraction is based largely on police officers’ judgment at the time of the crash-and because some people may be reluctant to admit being distracted when interviewed by police after a crash-the numbers are difficult to verify. These numbers may, in fact, under-represent the seriousness and prevalence of driving distractions overall.
The data is nevertheless meaningful, because unlike surveys in which consumers self-report the types of distracted
behaviors they engage in, the data is based on actual police reports concerning fatal crashes.
8. Using other device or controls integral to the vehicle
Virtually any activity that can take your eyes off the road for even a split-second can put the driver and others in
jeopardy. Seemingly innocent behaviors, such as adjusting rearview mirrors, seats, or using an OEM navigation
system accounted for another 1 percent of fatal distractions.
7. Adjusting audio or climate controls
Two percent of distracted drivers admitted that switching radio stations or adjusting the stereo volume or vehicle
temperature led to a fatal mistake.
6. Eating or drinking
Using one’s car as a moving restaurant is risky business as well. Another two percent of distracted drivers were
either eating or drinking when the fatal crash occurred. A morning pit stop at Starbucks or a local coffee shop can
avoid this careless, unnecessary risk.
5. Using or reaching for device brought into vehicle, such as navigational device or headphones
Drivers who reached for their GPS device or headphones accounted for around two percent as well.
4. Other occupants (talking with or looking at other people in the car)
Friends made bad company for 5 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.
3. Outside person, object or event (such as rubbernecking)
It’s difficult to resist temptation to gawk at off-road drama or post-wreck cleanup, but 7 percent of the distracted
drivers in the report should have. Parents’ advice to “keep your eyes on the wheel” at all times should carry
2. Gell phone use (talking, listening, dialing, texting)
A slew of legislation has been aimed to deter operating a cell phone while driving. At least 11 states in addition to
D.C. have banned the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.
Text messaging while driving (TWD) specifically is one of the most dangerous distractions and is illegal in 39 states
plus D.C. Many young adult drivers erroneously believe they can safely TWD, but the numbers indicate otherwise.
This offense accounted for 12 percent of fatal driving distractions. The national epidemic has also
sparked a “driving while intoxicated” public awareness campaign, after studies revealed that TWD is about six times
more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated. The NHTSA has also likened TWD to driving “after
consuming four beers.”
Other sobering statistics suggest TWD causes 1,600,000 accidents per year (National Safety Council); 30,000
injuries per year (Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study); and 1 1 teen deaths in the U.S. each day (lns. lnstitute for
Hwy Safety Fatality Facts).
1. Generally distracted or “lost in thought”
Detaching from reality can prove useful when recharging creative energies or simply taking a respite from a hectic
day. However,doing so while driving can be fatal.
Driving “in a fog” or seemingly on autopilot is, above all, the riskiest driving behavior cited According
to the insurer, daydreamers accounted for a whopping 62 percent of distracted drivers involved in road fatalities.