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Distracted Driving in America

There is no arguing it at this point: Distracted driving is a danger to everyone on the road. If you aren’t already aware of this growing danger, the accepted definition of distracted driving is providing attention to a non-driving task while at the steering wheel. Most often, this means interacting with one’s cell phone, iPad, Tablet, or other electronic device.

There are three ways a driver might become distracted:

  • Cognitively. Allowing one’s mind to be focused on a thought or activity which reduces the attention given to driving.

  • Manually. Engaging in an activity which causes one to remove one or both hands from the steering wheel.

  • Visually. Engaging in an activity which causes one to take one’s eyes off of the road.

A 2010 study of traffic accident trends found that 3,092 Americans were killed in accidents resulting from distracted driving, and 416,000 injuries occurred the same way. In fact, distracted driving was a factor in 18 percent of all car accidents resulting in injuries in 2010. And rates of distracted driving have only increased in 2011 and 2012.

Distracted Driving by the Numbers

The above-mentioned study is only one of many scholarly  endeavors intent on shedding light on the inherent dangers of distracted driving. In recent years, countless studies have looked at distracted driving from varying angles, with researchers coming to some shocking conclusions. Among these conclusions are the following:

  • A driver’s brain activity associated with driving is reduced by 37 percent when he / she texts while driving.

  • General use of a cell phone while driving makes a driver 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

  • A driver using a cell phone while driving is impaired in much the same way as a driver who has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08.

Use of cell phones isn’t the only form of distracted driving, however. Engaging in different tasks will affect a driver’s risk for an accident in different ways.

  • A driver who is texting while driving is 23 X more likely to be involved in an accident.

  • A driver who is dialing a number on a cell phone is 6 X more likely to be involved in an accident.

  • A driver who is writing on a pad or notebook is 9 X more likely to be involved in an accident.

  • A driver who is grooming him or herself while driving is 4 X more likely to be involved in an accident.

  • A driver who is reaching for an object in the car is 3 X more likely to be involved in an accident.

Teens & Distracted Driving

Many recent studies have been showing that teenagers are the most affected by distracted driving, and that these trends are increasing as the years roll by. Men and women under the age of 20 are found to be the most at-risk for accidents involving distracted driving. Additionally, 40 percent of teenagers have admitted to being in a car with a driver who using a cell phone in an irresponsible way. For good advice on teaching your teens to driver, see this article on the Carpey Law website.

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