Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing safety issues on the roads today. These are the driving behaviors that make you shake your fist in frustration or bow your head in recognition. But these behaviors are more than frustrating or something you know you should not do: Distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves; they’re a danger to everyone else on the road.
At any given moment during the daylight hours, over 900,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone. Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
Yes, younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distracted driving (and distraction-related fatal crashes). But people of all ages are using a variety of hand-held devices, such as cell phones, mp3 players, personal digital assistants, and navigation devices, when they are behind the wheel.
The infographic below from AllState shows what the distracted driving statistics look like today.
There are three main types of distraction:
Visual: taking your eyes off the road
Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving
Texting While Driving – The Most Dangerous and Most Common
Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph. And CNBC reports that texting and driving is actually more dangerous than drinking and driving. One test, which involved measuring how long it took for a driver to hit the brakes in a car going 70 mph, found that a legally drunk driver took an additional 4 feet to hit the brakes, while a driver sending a text took an additional 70 feet.
NHTSA leads the fight nationally against distracted driving thru campaigns, public service announcements and partnerships with local police to enforce laws against distracted driving that help keep us safe. You’ve likely seen or heard one of their public service announcements, but we’re also on Facebook and Twitter sharing stories and tips to help save lives.
Since April of 2015, the NHTSA has promoted the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. And as of June 2017, two new driving rules went into effect:
- Drivers are banned from hand-held phone use in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
- Texting while driving is banned in 46 states (including South Carolina) and the District of Columbia.
Get Involved: Help Stop Distracted Driving
The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education.
Teens can be the best messengers with their peers, so we encourage them to speak up when they see a friend driving while distracted, to have their friends sign a pledge to never drive distracted, to become involved in their local Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter, and to share messages on social media that remind their friends, family, and neighbors not to make the deadly choice to drive distracted.
Parents first have to lead by example—by never driving distracted—as well as have a talk with their young driver about distraction and all of the responsibilities that come with driving. Remind your teen driver that in South Carolina, which enforces graduated driver licensing (GDL), a violation of distracted-driving laws could mean a delayed or suspended license.
To learn more and access materials you can use at www.distraction.gov.