Local

June 7, 2013

What is distracted driving?

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Nelson Ervin
412th Test Wing Ground Safety

Distracted driving can be deadly.

Without giving it a lot of thought, we all can admit to having been distracted while driving.

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.

Some 6 percent of drivers say they were involved in a crash and 7 percent were in a near-crash situation in the past year. Of those, 2 percent say they were using cell phones at the time, and 3 percent were sending or reading text messages. These percentages remain unchanged from 2010 to 2012.

Every day in the United States, 9 people die in crashes caused by distracted drivers.

One might ask, just what is distracted driving. Well I’m glad you asked; distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger drivers, passengers, and bystanders safety. By no means is this an all-inclusive list of distractions:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. Most drivers know that texting while driving is a dangerous behavior, but many still use their cell phones and other mobile devices when they are behind the wheel, putting themselves and others at risk. Many drivers see distracted driving as risky when other drivers do it, but do not recognize how their own driving deteriorates.

Almost half (48.6 percent) of drivers say they answer incoming phone calls, and†one of†four drivers (23.9 percent) are willing to place calls on all, most, or some trips. About half (48.5 percent) said they never place calls while driving. Considering there are more than 210 million licensed drivers in America, slightly more than 102 million drivers†answered†calls and 50 million drivers†placed†calls while driving in 2012. At any given daylight moment across America, there are about 660,000 drivers using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.

The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses. Together, we can help save lives.




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