The problem of distractions:
- There are three main types of distraction1:
- Visual — taking your eyes off the road
- Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing
- A recent survey by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) found that teens felt pressure to stay connected or “always on” contributed to their need to engage with cell phones, even while driving2:
- 48% of teens reported texting more when alone in their car
- 55% reported texting while driving to update parents
- 37% reported texting to coordinate or confirm event details with friends
- 34% reported taking their eye off the road when receiving an app notification
- Most popular apps teens report using behind the wheel include2:
- Snapchat: 38%
- Instagram: 20%
- Twitter: 17%
- Facebook: 12%
- Youtube: 12%
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves3.
- Hand-held cell phone use while driving continues to be highest among female drivers and drivers ages 16-24 years of age4.
- 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 times5.
- 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 and represents the greatest portion of distracted drivers6.
- Texting and driving causes reaction time to double and those drivers have a harder time staying in their lane and maintaining a consistent speed7.
- More fatal teen crashes occur when passengers (often other teens) are in the car4.
- Over two out of four teens that died as passengers are in vehicles driven by other teens3.
- Research has shown that crash risk and risk of being killed in a crash increases as the number of young passengers in the vehicle increases. One study found a 44% increase in crash risk adding one passenger; two passengers doubled the risk of being killed and 3 passengers quadrupled the risk of dying in a crash8.
- Additionally, crash risk was shown to be decreased when the passenger was older than 35 highlighting the safety factor of supervised driving for teens8.
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.
- Liberty Mutual & SADD, 2013 https://www.libertymutualgroup.com/about-lm/news/news-release-archive/articles/new-study-finds-teens-fear-of-missing-out-is-proving-to-be-dangerous
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812197.pdf
- Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
- NHTSA, Distraction.gov
- Texas A&M Transportation Institute
- Tefft, B.C., Williams, A.F., & Grabowski, J.G. (2012) Teen driver risk in relation to age and number of passengers, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/research_reports/2012TeenDriverRiskAgePassengers.pdf