Distracted Driving Information & Guidance

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.

Important Statistics

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

Distraction.gov

Distracted Driving

The Dangers of Texting While Driving

NHTSA Study On Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving 2013

A meta-analysis of crash data and distracted driving studies:

Analysis of the Literature: The Use of Mobile Phones While Driving

Cell Phones and Driving: Review of Research

A Meta-Analysis of Driving Performance and Crash Risk Associated With the Use of Cellular Telephones While Driving

The Impact of Cell Phone Conversations on Driving, A Meta-Analytic Approach

Effects of Cellular Telephones on Driving Behaviour and Crash Risk: Results of Meta Analysis

The raw crash risk data:

Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-Crash Incidences

2010 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview

Trends in Fatalities From Distracted Driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008

Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study

The role of driver distraction in traffic crashes

Cellular Phone Use While Driving: Risks and Benefits

Crashes Induced by Driver Information Systems and What Can Be Done to Reduce Them

Association between cellular telephone calls and motor vehicle collisions

Some studies also point out that driving with hands-free devices isn’t risk-free, as was once thought:

Understanding the distracted brain: Why driving while using hands-free phones is risky behavior

Additional research into cognitive distraction and why we can’t pay attention to the road while using mobile devices:

Understanding the distracted brain: Why driving while using hands-free phones is risky behavior

Measuring Cognitive Distraction in the Automobile.

Studies and data on text-messaging, and voice-activated texting:

New research reveals that voice-activated in-car technologies dangerously undermine driver attention

Voice-to-Text Driver Distraction Study. New research findings suggest that voice-to-text applications offer no real safety advantage over manual texting

The Effect of Text Messaging on Driver Behavior: A Simulator Study

The effects of text messaging on young novice driver performance

How distracted driving compares to drunk driving in terms of impairment:

Fatal Distraction? A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver

Driver cell phone usage rates:

Driver Electronic Device Use in 2014

Driver Electronic Device Use in 2013

Driver Electronic Device Use in 2012

Driver Electronic Device Use in 2011

What law enforcement is doing to stop the problem:

High-Visibility Enforcement Demonstration Programs in Connecticut and New York Reduce Hand-Held Phone Use

Phoning While Driving

Longer-term effects of Washington, DC, law on drivers hand-held cell phone use

Effects of Washington, D.C. law on drivers hand-held cell phone use

Longer term effects of New York State’s law on drivers handheld cell phone use

Drivers use of handheld cell phones before and after New York State’s cell phone law

Distracted driving and its effect on teens and young drivers:

Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-Crash Incidences

Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers

Teens and Distracted Driving: Texting, talking and other uses of the cell phone behind the wheel

Other studies and summary of statistics concerning distracted driving:

Cell Phones and Driving: Research Update

The Impact of Driver Inattention on Near-Crash/Crash Risk

Effects of Simulator Practice and Real-World Experience on Cell-Phone–Related Driver Distraction

Mobile telephone simulator study

Distractions in Everyday Driving

SNRA inquiry into the use of mobile phones and other IT systems while driving

Predicting the effects of in-car interface use on driver performance

Cell Phone Use While Driving Statistics

11 Fact About Texting and 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.

Talk. Text. Crash. – Distracted Driving Campaign

SAFE Driving Videos

New Distracted Driving Training Program

Distracted Driving Demonstrations

Did You Know? – “Distracted”

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.