The evidence is clear: Distracted driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Removing one’s eyes from the road for mere seconds can have dangerous repercussions, contributing to accidents, injury or even death.
Distraction.gov, the United States government’s official website for Distracted Driving, states that, in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers that 10 percent of all drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes. A 2013 Allstate Canada marketing survey conducted with more than 1,500 Canadian adults found that, although the vast majority of Canadians think distracted driving is dangerous, nearly three out of four Canadian drivers engage in behavior that is considered distracting.
The term “distracted driving” is an umbrella term that refers to various behaviors drivers engage in when behind the wheel. The situations below are some of the biggest distractions today’s drivers must deal with.
Talking or texting on a mobile phone
Mobile phone usage is one of the leading causes of distracted driving. Five seconds is the average time a person’s eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. And people are not only texting when behind the wheel. They’re posting to social media, taking photos and video, as well as reading emails and more. The National Occupant Protection Use Survey points out that, at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.
People, pets and objects inside of a vehicle can be quite a distraction as well. Removing focus from the road for a few seconds to address rowdy children in the back seat or to pass food to the backseat can cause vehicles to veer. Drivers who allow pets to ride unrestrained in their cars may find their animals in their laps or roaming around, which can be distracting as well. Drivers should remain in control of their passengers at all times. This includes ensuring people and pets are properly fastened in seat belts and the volume of music and voices is kept to a minimum.
Reading behind the wheel
Looking at a map, glancing at an incoming email or even trying to locate street signs or billboards on the side of the road can be distracting. When drivers are unsure of where to go, they can bring along another passenger, who can keep his or her eyes peeled for landmarks. Passengers also can look at the map or GPS so drivers can stay focused on the road.
It is paramount that drivers keep their eyes on the road at all times. Limiting distractions, however innocuous they may seem, can keep drivers, their passengers and their fellow motorists safe.