Distracted Driving: An Ongoing Problem
Apparently, it’s time for another talk about distracted driving. On a recent road trip to Destin, Florida (see picture of beautiful sunset over the Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin Golf And Beach Resort), we noticed a woman putting her mascara on while driving on the interstate. According to traffic safety experts, there are three types of distractions while driving: manual, visual, and cognitive. Manual distractions involve the driver taking his/her hands off of the steering wheel. Visual distractions are those that involve the driver taking his/her eyes off of the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions are when the driver takes his/her mind away from the task of driving. (End Distracted Driving EndDD.org) So, which type of distraction is applying mascara? What about the other prevalent form of distraction, the cell phone which causes 1/4 of all traffic accidents? (National Safety Council) One could say that they fall under ALL three forms of distraction.
According to the most recent research, the statistics are nearly the same as they were in previous years. In 2019, 7% of all fatalities on the road were due to distracted driving. That was 3,142 lives. In 2017, 3,166 people lost their lives due to distracted driving. (NHTSA)
Many drivers are not taking distracted driving seriously enough. Although over 84% of drivers recognize the danger from cell phone distractions, 36% of those same people admit to having read or sent a text message while driving the previous month. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety). The following statistics regarding distracted driving will hopefully remind you to think twice before using your phone or eating, putting on makeup, reading a book or newspaper, etc., etc., etc. while you are driving.
- About 1 out of 5 people who were killed by distracted drivers in 2018 were not in vehicles. They were walking, riding bikes, or outside of the vehicle in some fashion. (NHTSA)
- Distracted driving crashes are under-reported, so the statistics around distracted driving are most likely higher.
- The fatal crash rate for teens is 3 times greater than for drivers over 20.
- Teens whose parents drive distracted are 2-4 times as likely to also drive distracted.
- Cell phone users are 5 times more likely to be involved in an accident than undistracted drivers.
- In the 5 seconds it takes to read a text message, your car can travel the length of a football field going 55 mph or greater. That’s at least 100 yards of your eyes not on the road thus a visual distraction for sure.
Remember, your distracted driving does not just affect you. When you drive distracted you are putting others at risk. Put your cell phone on silent and turn it over so that you cannot see notifications that will tempt you to look at it while you are driving. Allow plenty of time to put your make up on at home before you head out. Refrain from reading the newspaper or a book while driving; it’s sad, but that does need to be mentioned. Try to plan your meals so you can eat when you are not driving. There are many other forms of distraction. Make sure to be aware of them, and don’t be distracted! Be safe while driving!
Jane Freeman is licensed in Property and Casualty at Peck and Wood Insurance.