Did you know about 3,000 people die from distracted driving in a given year? If not, then you may not be aware of what distracted driving is.
You should know what distracted driving is and what causes it so you can take the steps to be safer on the road. To learn about distracted driving and to take a look at the statistics keep reading below.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is defined as any activity that doesn’t relate to driving while you’re sitting behind the wheel. There are 3 main types of distracted driving that can increase your risk of accidents ultimately lowering your safety.
The first type of distracted driving is manual. This is when you do any activity that takes your hands off the wheel such as searching for something in the car or even texting with your phone.
The second type is cognitive. You are cognitively distracted whenever you take your mind off driving. This can be when you let your mind wander, thinking of work, or even home.
The last type of distracted driving is visual. You are visually distracted whenever you take your eyes off the road. This can be as simple as looking at a house while you’re driving or even checking out accidents on the side of the road as you drive by.
Even if you think you’re the safest driver on the planet, at one point in time you most likely were affected by distracted driving by either yourself or another person. It’s good to remember that everyone is distracted when driving at some point, but you’re in full control of how distracted you allow yourself to become.
How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?
In 2009 the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute completed a study on driving distractions. This study stated that text messaging increased the risk of a fatal accident by 23.2 times.
This is compared to a driver who isn’t distracted. Since this study came to light states took the step to do something about the safety of those on the road. Since 2009 the District of Columbia and 48 states have banned texting while behind the wheel.
The statistics of distracted driving don’t stop here. It’s believed that 9 people a day are killed in driving accidents where distractions are the cause. Then every day thousands of people are injured in these types of accidents.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute even took showing the dangers of distracted driving a step further in 2014 when they released a new study. This study stated that any interaction with your phone highers your distracted driving levels. This can be anything such as reaching for the phone, talk to text, and even talking on speakerphone.
These statistics should paint a nice picture of how dangerous distracted driving is. Some even say that getting distracted behind the wheel is worse than drunk driving because it drastically lowers your safety levels and makes you a danger to yourself and others on the road.
Distracted Driving Facts That Everyone Should Know
To get an even better insight into how dangerous distracted driving is we are here to give you a few statistics. These statistics will help you to see the bigger picture so you can do your best to not become distracted the next time you’re behind the wheel.
1. 303 Million People Have Cell Phones in the United States and Most of Them Drive
Around 303 million people within the United States have a cell phone. At any moment during daylight hours, it’s estimated that more than 800,000 cars and other motor vehicles are being driven by someone using a handheld phone. This means that there are 800,000 chances that someone will be in an accident, fatal or not, due to distracted driving.
2. More Than 2 Million People Are Involved in Crashes Every Year
Every year around 2.5 million people are the subject of a car crash. Of these 2.5 million crashes distracted driving is the leading cause. This can be put into a better perspective when you know that around 1,000 people are injured in a distracted driving-related crash every day.
3. Deaths From Car Crashes Are Steadily Rising
It’s suggested that deaths caused by car accidents are on the rise. This is thanks to all the distractions drivers encounter daily.
When it comes to inside the car many distractions make it hard for us to fully concentrate on the road. These distractions include things such as listening to music or a podcast and even looking at things such as your touch screen or GPS.
When it comes to distractions outside the car this can make it just as hard to focus on the road in front of you. From trying to figure out which turn to take to trying to navigate construction areas, these are also things that can distract you from driving and make you a risk to yourself and others.
4. Multitasking Is a Lie
We’ve all heard it before that driving while distracted is okay because the driver can multitask. Some of us may have even said this as the driver but the truth is that multitasking is a myth.
Research shows that when you’re doing two things at the same time your brain isn’t doing both. Your brain can only focus on one task at a time. So when you’re multitasking your brain is switching back and forth between each task rapidly.
Every task you add to your multitasking list makes it harder for your brain to focus on them. Now add this concept to driving.
When you try to multitask while driving, say texting and paying attention to the road, your brain can only pay full attention to either driving or texting at a given time. The moments your brain is focusing on reading or sending a text can be fatal to someone or even yourself.
Another thing that happens when you try to multitask while driving is your eye activity begins to slow down. Along with slower eye activity, your problem-solving skills become diminished.
This is because your brain can’t keep up with everything you’re trying to do. The result is that your reactions aren’t as speedy as you want them to be and it can lead to an accident before you know it.
5. Teens Have a Greater Risk of Having an Accident
When it comes to teens driving distracted they are more at risk of having fatal crashes. The crash rate for teens who drive with distractions is 3 times greater than those aged 20 and older.
This means that when teens text and drive they are more likely to get into a crash and for it to turn fatal. This is because teens aren’t that experienced at driving and they can become reckless fast. When we are young we feel as if we’re invincible and that’s still true for today’s generation.
6. It Takes Time for Your Brain to Register Surroundings
When you’re distracted in the car and notice it you try to bring your attention back to the road, but did you know it takes your brain some time to re-focus? It takes your brain around 13 seconds to re-focus.
So if you pick up your cell phone to look at a notification and set it back down immediately it will take your brain 13 seconds to refocus on the road you’re navigating. This is a statistic that surprises some people because they think your brain instantly registers and focuses on the task you want it to.
As your brain is taking time to refocus on the road you’re driving skills aren’t up to speed. This is because your body needs to re-adjust and register that they are doing a different action than what it was doing a few seconds before.
7. Majority of Accidents Happen Close to Home
Almost all motor vehicle accidents happen close to your doorstep. 77 percent of accidents happen 15 miles or less from your home address.
When a driver becomes familiar with their surroundings they become more relaxed in the car. This means that you know the stops and turns automatically so you ease into your seat and let your guard down.
But letting your guard down is one of the many distractions you can have while operating a car. This makes you less aware of any changes that may have happened on your route. These changes can be construction or even a kid running out into the road to get a toy.
8. Eating Is a Distraction
We have all been there, we are on our way to work but we forgot breakfast. So we stop to get a quick bite and eat on the way to the office. This action is yet another big distraction while driving.
Some say that eating while driving is a bigger risk than texting and driving. This is because eating in the car can be messy. If you spill on yourself or over the car your attention immediately goes to the mess and takes your eyes off the road.
These messes demand your attention immediately because you don’t want your work shirt to be stained or you don’t want the interior of your car to be ruined. It’s even important to point out that when you’re eating while driving you’re taking a hand off the wheel.
Your eyes off the road and one hand on the wheel makes your reaction time significantly less than if your full attention was on the road. This can lead to small accidents or even bigger and fatal crashes.
9. Large Truck Accidents Are Usually Caused by Distracted Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that a majority of large truck accidents are the cause of distracted driving. 71 percent of large truck accidents are the result of the diver doing something other than paying attention to the road and their surroundings. These crashes are very fatal due to what’s being carried in the truck and if the truck collides with cars smaller than itself.
10. 3 Seconds Is All It Takes
The study above by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that 3 seconds was all it took to be involved in a crash. 80 percent of crashes involved a distracted driver that lost attention to driving 3 seconds before the accident happened. This study even notes that driver inattention is the leading cause of near-crashes also.
How Do We Stop Distracted Driving?
The ultimate way to help save lives on the road and to bring down car crash rates is to put a stop to distracted driving. This may sound harder than it is. If we all work together to be less distracted on the road we can save our lives as well as the lives of others.
Start by trying not to multitask while in the driver’s seat. Keep your attention on driving and the road at all times.
Put the phone down and leave it down until you reach your destination. This will help to keep your brain from multitasking and have it focused on the road at all times.
Get organized before leaving your house. Organize the car and get what you need upfront and put distractions in the back.
Now You Know the Facts When it Comes to Distracted Driving
We have given you the rundown on what distracted driving is. We have even touched base on the top statistics of distracted driving such as multitasking being a myth and that eating behind the wheel is a bigger distraction than you might think. For more insurance tips and information be sure to check out the rest of our website.