Distracted driving is any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from driving. Distracted driving includes cell phone use and other activities such as eating, talking to other passengers, adjusting the radio or climate controls. There are three main types of distracted driving: taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and taking your mind off driving.
Every day about eight people in the United States are killed in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. According to the 2020 CDC distracted driving report, more than 2,800 were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. About 1 in 5 of people who have died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018 were not in vehicles.
A distraction-affected crash is any crash in which a driver was identified as distracted at the time of the crash. In 2018, there were an estimated 400,000 people injured in distracted driving accidents.
Twenty-five percent of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were young adults aged 20-29, according to the 2020 CDC distracted driving report. Furthermore, the distracted driving report states that drivers aged 15-19 were more likely to be distracted than drivers aged 20 and older, among drivers in crashes where someone died.
New strategies to combat distracted driving:
Furthermore, certain states use high-visibility enforcement (HVE) to prevent cell-phone use while driving by increasing the perceived risk of getting a ticket. HVE combines increased enforcement, such as saturation patrols (increased number of officers patrolling a specific area), with paid and earned media.
HVE can reduce cell phone use while driving. Pilot HVE programs in Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut, used increased enforcement efforts with paid media, press events, and news releases over a one-year period. Syracuse saw a 32% decrease in hand-held cell phone use among drivers, while Hartford saw a 57% decrease.
Graduated driver licensing is a system that helps new drivers gain experience under low-risk conditions by granting driving privileges in stages. CDC’s GDL Planning Guide can assist states in assessing, developing, and implementing actionable plans to strengthen their GDL systems.
Limiting the number of young passengers can help reduce distracted driving among teen drivers. A national study of 15-17 year old drivers showed that fatal crashes were 21% lower when zero passengers were allowed and 7% lower when one passenger was allowed, compared with policies that allowed two or more passengers.
What the government is doing to stop distracted driving:
The following notes are some notable actions taken by the federal government to curb the trend of distracted driving:
Several states have passed legislative acts to help prevent distracted driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tracks cellphone use laws and young passenger restrictions by state. Some states have installed rumble strips on highways to alert drowsy, distracted, or inattentive drivers that are veering off the road.
What you can do:
Do not multitask while driving. Put your phone in a safe place out of reach and eat your food before or after your trip. You should pull over if you feel any need to take your full concentration off the road.
Speak up if you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver. Ask the operator of the vehicle to focus on the roadway. Reduce distractions for the driver by assisting with navigation or other tasks.
Talk to your child about the rules and responsibilities that come along with driving. Remind them that driving requires their full attention and texts and phone calls can wait. It is important to know your state’s graduated driver licensing system and enforce those guidelines on your child. Set consequences for distracted driving. Additionally, set an example by keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel at all times.
Teenagers. (n.d.). Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://www.iihs.org/topics/teenagers
Distracted Driving. (2020, October 26). Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html
Distracted driving. (n.d.). Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://www.iihs.org/topics/distracted-driving
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