We have all heard about the devastating effects of distracted driving, but how many drivers are actually refraining from activities that can easily cause car accidents?
According to U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 3,000 people were killed in car collisions caused by a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. In 2009, 20 percent of car accidents with injuries involved distracted drivers.
There are three main types of distracted driving: manual, which is taking your hands off the wheel; visual, which involves taking your eyes off the road; and cognitive, meaning taking your mind off of driving.
Text messaging is particularly dangerous because it affects a driver in all three ways. In fact, a driver who is texting is 23 times more likely to become involved in a car accident than a driver who is not texting, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The average amount of time a person takes his or her eyes off the road when texting is five seconds, which amounts to the length of an entire football field if you are traveling 55 miles per hour. Drivers in Jacksonville, Florida, are particularly at risk because the state of Florida has no law banning cell phone use while driving.
Of course, texting is not the only culprit distracting motorists. Talking on a cell phone, even hands-free, is a major distraction. Many other common activities take drivers’ attention away from the road. Simple things like eating, drinking or just talking to passengers can lead to distractions resulting in car accidents. Other pitfalls include grooming, reading a map or looking at a navigation system, or adjusting the radio. Any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road is dangerous.
To help reduce car accidents caused by distracted driving, the NHTSA encourages drivers to take a pledge which includes:
• Never texting or talking on the phone when behind the wheel.
• Speaking up if the driver of the car seems distracted.
• Asking friends and family members to drive without using their cell phone.