> The Problem > Distractions



A distraction is anything that takes your mind and attention away from driving

The problem of distractions:

Distracted driving has become a hot topic of conversation, debate and policy making these days. Cell phones are a major target, but distractions are anything that takes your mind and attention away from your main task, driving in this case.

  • 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 what you’re doing
  • In a national survey of more than 900 teens with driver’s licenses from 26 high schools, teens rated the following behaviors or activities as “extremely” or “very” distracting:
    (Liberty Mutual)

    • Instant or text messaging while driving – 37%
    • The teen driver’s emotional state – 20%
    • Having several friends in the car – 19%
    • Talking on a cell phone – 14%
    • Eating or drinking – 7%
    • Having a friend in the car – 5%crash_rate_passengers
    • Listening to music – 4%
  • The under-20 age group represents the greatest proportion of distracted drivers – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • Texting and driving causes reaction time to double and those drivers have a harder time staying in their lane and maintaining a consistent speed (Texas A&M Transportation Institute)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Hand-held cell phone use while driving continues to be highest among female drivers and drivers ages 16-24 years of age (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • More fatal teen crashes occur when passengers (often other teens) are in the car (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • 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)
  • Two out of four teens that died as passengers are in vehicles driven by other teens (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • 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 (NHTSA, Distraction.gov)


What to do about distracted driving:

  • Focus on the road. When you are driving is not the time to multi-task
  • Keep distractions out of the car. If you know you will be tempted to look at or use your phone, lock it in the trunk or turn it off
  • Ask passengers to obey your rules while they are in the car, meaning buckle up and don’t distract you
  • Designate a texter. If you have a passenger, hand over your phone so they can do your texting or talking for you
  • Be a good passenger by not distracting the driver
  • Know that as a driver, you have the responsibility to yourself and others. A vehicle is heavy machine and should be treated with respect
  • Set your music/radio before you take your car out of Park
  • Never use headphones while driving. It’s illegal and dangerous
  • Keep passengers to a minimum. If every person doesn’t have a seat belt, you have too many passengers
  • If you don’t feel well or emotionally able to drive – don’t. Ask for a ride or wait until you are able
  • Know your limitations. Driving experience comes with time. It’s ok to not be ready for certain driving conditions. Never feel pressured to drive dangerously or beyond your experience