When asked, 94 percent of Americans said that distracted driving is a major threat to safety for everyone on the road. And, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 10 percent of drivers are talking on a cellphone during any given daylight moment.
According to numerous studies, distracted driving is at least as bad as, or worse than, driving while drunk. This means that, at any given moment, there are 974,000 drivers on the road who are perfectly sober but more impaired than a drunk driver.
Numerous statistics show that distracted driving harms drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. This list of resources connects you to important government and privately-funded studies and statistics:
Statistics And Reports
A meta-analysis of crash data and distracted driving studies:
The raw crash risk data:
Some studies also point out that driving with hands-free devices isn’t risk-free, as was once thought:
Additional research into cognitive distraction and why we can’t pay attention to the road while using mobile devices:
Studies and data on text-messaging, and voice-activated texting:
How distracted driving compares to drunk driving in terms of impairment:
Driver cell phone usage rates:
What law enforcement is doing to stop the problem:
Distracted driving and its effect on teens and young drivers:
Other studies and summary of statistics concerning distracted driving:
Government advertisements and public awareness about distracted driving:
The Faces of Distracted Driving: These are real stories of people killed because of distracted driving.
How To Avoid Distracted Driving
Turn your phone off when driving. This is the best way to keep your phone from distracting you. If you use your phone’s GPS for navigation, secure it on the dash, or some other place in the vehicle that doesn’t impede vision, but which also doesn’t require you to take your eyes off the road. Do this prior to putting the vehicle into drive, or first gear.
Set up a recorded message on your phone’s voice mail that tells others you’re driving and can’t answer your phone.
If you need to make a phone call, pull over when and where it is safe. Then, make or receive the call.
Schedule your time. If you find that you’re chronically late for appointments, do a better job scheduling your time. Leave early, and anticipate distractions on the road. If you are expecting a call while driving, give yourself the extra time you need to pull over and take the call.
You can also drive with passengers. Your passengers can take the call or text message while you stay focused on the road.
Secure pets, and kids, before you start driving.
Technology and Apps That Help Avoid Distracted Driving
Sprint’s Drive First Application – this application is installed at the carrier end of the service. When activated, the app senses movement and disables many features of the smartphone, including texting. It does allow access to GPS, music, and three key contacts.
CellControl – This Android App consists of hardware that’s secured in the vehicle and an app that monitors driving behavior. It’s often used by parents for their teen drivers. The app disables functions like call answering and texting while the vehicle is in motion.
Any attempt to disable or remove the device triggers an alert from CellControl.
Canary – This app reports abnormal driving to parents. For example, parents can set maximum speed limits, and the app will alert parents when those speeds have been exceeded. It also lets parents set up geofences, and alerts parents when teens move outside the predefined area.
DriveSafe.ly – This app lets users hear texts and other notifications, but provides automatic responses so that users cannot respond. It’s a great app to let you know that someone is trying to reach you, while still keeping you safe by preventing you from answering the phone.
Protecting Vulnerable Groups From Distracted Driving
Storytelling is probably the best way to initiate a discussion about distracted driving. Teens, and other vulnerable drivers, need to know the impact their choices have on others. Sometimes, this is not best handled by lecturing, but by demonstration, storytelling, and creative educational initiatives.
Letting teens listen to stories about others who have suffered at the hands of a distracted driver, for example, may help teens empathize with the victims. It may also help put things into perspective for the young driver. The Faces Of Distracted Driving is an excellent storytelling initiative that does just that.
Consumer reports also details multiple strategies that might help parents protect their teen drivers from distraction while out on the road.
Strategies like mapping out your route before you start driving will help you reduce the need to use your mobile phone while driving. Grooming at home, not on the road, is another simple, but effective, way to reduce distracted driving.
Eating and driving seems like a good idea, and there are many drive-throughs that encourage this behavior. But, resisting the urge to eat and drive will also reduce the urge to drive while distracted.
Familiarizing yourself with the vehicle’s controls before driving will also help reduce the amount of time you take your focus off the road when you need to adjust climate control or radio volume.
Additionally, many of the new initiatives will involve enhancements made to vehicles by auto manufacturers. For example, automakers are being asked to design in-dash controls that are less distracting and don’t require drivers to take their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.
New in-dash systems may also disable manual texting while the vehicle is in motion.
Consumer reports also publishes a helpful distracted driving pamphlet.