Distracted driving has been defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as engaging in activities that involve manual, visual, or cognitive distraction while driving – basically, any activity that takes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel or his or her eyes or mind off the road. One of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving is texting behind the wheel, which involves all three types of distraction. While it may only take five seconds to read or send a text, a vehicle can travel a great distance in that short period of time, endangering both the texter and others. According to a recent study by Allstate Insurance, nearly half of drivers polled admitted to texting while driving, an alarming rate of dangerous and potentially deadly behavior on America’s roads.
Cell Phone Use While Driving: Statistics
Allstate Insurance’s study draws upon polls conducted with more than 7,500 drivers from 2013 through 2016. Some of its key takeaways are as follows:
- Nearly half of all drivers (48.4%) admitted to texting while driving either “Sometimes,” “Frequently,” or “Always.”
- Nearly two out of three drivers (65.7%) admitted to talking on the phone while driving.
- Despite how common texting while driving is, more than two-thirds of drivers (67.1%) polled said they were only “Fair” or “Poor” at doing so.
- 35.4% of respondents either had been or knew somebody who had been involved in a distracted driving-related crash.
- 85.1% of those polled said that texting while driving was either as dangerous as or even more dangerous than drunk driving.
Studies Suggest Distracted Driving on the Rise
Other studies suggest that distracted driving, particularly driving involving cell phone use, is on the rise. In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that distraction was a factor in roughly 10 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes and 18 percent of all crashes causing injury. The NHTSA later found that 3,477 people were killed as a result of distracted driving in 2015, the most recent year for which data was collected. Of those victims, 67% were teenagers aged 16 to 19. In fact, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in that age bracket.
According to a study released by Bloomberg in 2017, the number of fatal car crashes has risen 14% since 2015. Drivers are often hesitant to admit that they were using a cell phone while driving. However, given that the rates of drinking and driving have been falling and the rates of seatbelt use have been rising over time, it would suggest that cell phone use while driving has played a significant role in the increase in vehicular fatalities.
One in Four Using Cell Phone Right Before Crash
In April 2017, Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a company that makes driving applications for auto insurance carriers, released the results of a study that polled more than 100,000 drivers over a period of 18 months. The study found that distracted driving occurred during 52 percent of motor vehicle crashes. Moreover, nearly a quarter of drivers were using cell phones within a minute before their crashes occurred.
The study further discovered that cell phone bans make virtually no dent in distracted driving rates. In states that ban using cell phones while driving, like Illinois, the average driver spends 3.17 minutes on the phone per 100 miles. In states that allow cell phone use, the average is 3.82 minutes per 100 miles.
Many of the states that ban handheld phones still allow hands-free phones based on the popular belief that hands-free phones are safer. However, multiple research studies have argued that hands-free cell phones do not offer significant safety benefits over handheld phones. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, regardless whether a cell phone is hand-held or hands-free, using one can delay a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08%, the legal limit for intoxicated driving.
Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?
So why is distracted driving so dangerous? Because distraction shifts a driver’s attention away from driving itself. Distracted driving is any activity that does one of the following:
- Takes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel;
- Takes a driver’s eyes off the road; and/or
- Takes a driver’s mind off of driving.
Texting involves all three types of distraction, so it is among the worst forms of distracted driving. However, it is far from the only one. Common driving distractions include:
- Talking on a cell phone;
- Adjusting the radio;
- Eating and drinking;
- Personal grooming;
- Reading maps or newspapers;
- Looking at billboards;
- Gawking at roadside crashes;
- Reaching for fallen objects;
- Manipulating vehicle instruments;
- Talking with passengers; and/or
- Attending to pets.
The lack of attention caused by these distracting activities can make a driver miss critical objects and events on the road or abandon control of the vehicle, which can potentially result in a serious crash. Distracted drivers put themselves, their passengers, and everyone else around them at risk.
For this reason, drivers are encouraged to avoid distracting activities until their vehicles have come to a complete stop in a safe location. Their safety, as well as the safety of others on the road with them, may depend on it.
Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured, in a distracted driving accident or in some other way, you may find that you could benefit from the guidance of the experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers. Please contact GWC today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives.