It's all in a typical drive.
Imagine a typical morning, and you’re on your way to school. You’re driving down the road, listening to a new band your friend recommended, and your cell phone beeps.
You glance down at the passenger seat and see that you just received a text from your friend about some homework you have to turn in that day. You grab your phone, type out a quick reply, and hit send.
Before you put your phone back down, you write a quick text to a coworker asking if she can cover your shift this weekend.
When is normal a liability?
Distracted driving led to about 20% of all crashes in 2008.
This scenario isn’t uncommon. One study shows that 26% of all Americans ages 16-17 have texted while driving and 43% have talked on their phones while driving.
Back to your morning drive. You’re about to hit send, and you hear a car honk. You look up and notice you’re headed straight for a tree. You slam on the brakes, but too late.
Sadly, this scenario isn’t uncommon either. According to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS), distracted driving led to about 20% of all crashes in 2009. Of these, almost 5,500 were fatal and more than 450,000 people were injured.
Distractions Come in Different Forms
Distraction.gov, the government’s official website for distracted driving, defines distracted driving: “Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.”
While cell phone use and texting gets the most media attention, other distractions include:
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps and directions
- Using a GPS or other navigation system
- Watching a video
- Changing the music
Why is it such a big deal?
These distractions take your focus away from driving and put it toward something else.
A study by the University of Utah reveals that drivers using a cell phone have delayed reactions similar to a driver at the legal limit for alcohol, a blood alcohol level of 0.08.
Teenage drivers are the age group with the highest proportion of distracted drivers in fatal crashes. The next highest group is young adults ages 20 to 29 years old.
Distracted driving is a big issue because of the increasing number of deaths and injuries that result. From 2004 to 2008, the number of drivers distracted at the time of fatal crashes increased from 8% to 11%.
Focusing on distractionMany states have joined the movement.
On a national level, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has created a website filled with information such as statistics, state laws, and more for people to learn about the issue of distracted driving.
Despite the website and the DOT’s effort to bring attention to distracted driving risks, there still is not a national ban on cell phone use while driving.
Now, the queen of all media is taking a stand against texting while driving...