> 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%
    • 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)crash_rate_passengers
  • More fatal teen crashes occur when passengers (often other teens) are in the car (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • Two out of three teens that died as passengers are in vehicles driven by other teens (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • When teenage drivers transport passengers there is a greatly increased crash risk. When there are multiple passengers, the crash risk is three to five times greater than when driving alone. The risk is also greater for young drivers aged 16 to 17 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • In a 2005 study, researchers found that when teens drive other teens, they tend to drive faster than other motorists and to leave less distance between their vehicles and the vehicles in front of them (National Institute of Health and Welfare)
  • In 2010 & 2011, 11% of all drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted
    (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts).
  • For drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21% of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones
    (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts).

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