Keep Your Eyes on the Road, Not Your Phone

Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. There are three main types of distraction. Visual distraction is taking your eyes off the road, manual distraction is taking your hands off the wheel and cognitive distraction is taking your mind off of driving.

Distracted driving activities include, but are not limited to, using a cell phone, texting, eating and using in-vehicle technologies, such as navigation systems. While all of these distractions endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.

By the numbers, distracted driving is a big problem

  • In 2011, 3360 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver; an additional 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver
  • In 2012, 3328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver; an additional 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver
  • In 2011, 17% (nearly one in five) of crashes in which someone was injured involved distracted driving

Risk Factors

  • Some activities—such as texting—take the driver’s attention away from driving more frequently and for longer periods than other distractions
  • Younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20 may be at increased risk; they have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes
  • According to a CDC study…
    • Nearly half of all U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older text or email while driving
    • Students who text while driving are nearly twice as likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking
    • Students who text while driving are five times as likely to drink and drive than students who don’t text while driving

What is being done?

  • Many states are enacting laws—such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers—to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to keep it from occurring
    • Note: the effectiveness of cell phone and texting laws on decreasing distracted driving-related crashes requires further study.
  • In September 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or with government equipment
  • In September 2010, the Federal Railroad Administration banned cell phone and electronic device use of employees on the job
  • In October 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving
  • In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration banned all hand-held cell phone use by commercial drivers and drivers carrying hazardous materials.

While all of these are steps in the right direction, there are still steps that need to be taken. It’s up for us as individuals to remind our loved ones to keep their distractions off the road.