Distracted driving is a horrible pattern seen on all of America’s roadways. In 2013, 3,154 were killed in distracted driving crashes. This represents a 6.7 percent decrease in the number of fatalities recorded in 2012. Unfortunately, approximately 424,000 people were injured, which is an increase from the 421,000 people who were injured in 2012. Thus, it is important to point out that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month and a opportunity to remind motorists of the severity of distracted driving.
What is distracted driving? According to distraction.gov, it is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Since 2012, distracted driving crashes in Florida have increased 25 percent. Teens represented 5 percent of licensed drivers but were responsible for 12 precent of the crashes, according to officials. Drivers between ages 20 and 29 were responsible for 31 percent of the distracted driving crashes.In 2014, there were more than 42,000 crashes in Florida that were the result of distracted driving. Officials added that of those 42,000 accidents, there were a total of 212 fatalities reported.
In Florida, it is against the law for a person to manually send or read texts, emails and instant messages on a wireless community device while they are operating a vehicle – while the vehicle is in motion.
Some important facts pertaining to distracted driving:
As of December 2013, 153.3 billion text messages were sent in the US (includes PR, the Territories, and Guam) every month.(CTIA)
10% of drivers of all ages under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
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. (NOPUS)
Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times. (VTTI)
Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI)
A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.(UMTRI)
Eighty percent of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. But that is just not the case. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer because the brain remains distracted by the conversation. When talking on a cell phone, drivers can miss seeing up to half of what’s around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians.
So what should we take from all of these facts and statistics? We all need to lead by example to stop the epidemic. We need to put down our phones while driving, keep both hands on the wheel and be aware of our surroundings.