Responses from government agencies, victims’ families, lawmakers, cellphone providers, and the auto industry to the dangers of texting and driving have led to awareness campaigns and changes in laws that have helped reduce accidents caused by this dangerous distraction. This is not to say that the problem is completely gone—in fact, among young drivers, it is still a major concern. However, it has taken the focus off of other forms of dangerous distracted driving. While you may do your part to stay focused on the road, others are not so conscientious and you or your loved ones could be seriously injured or killed by their carelessness. Read more about driving distractions and how to avoid them.
Texting Remains the Biggest Threat
Texting requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the user. In other words, someone who is texting is using his eyes, hands, and brain—three things that are essential for safe driving. When a driver makes the decision to send or read a text while driving, he is putting himself, his passengers, and others on the road at risk. It takes an average of five seconds to read a text. In that time, a car going 55 miles per hour has travelled the length of a football field. All that time, the driver has been essentially blindfolded and may have even had his hands off the wheel.
According to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute:
- 25 percent of teen drivers admit to responding to a text message at least once every time they drive.
- 20 percent of teens say they have extended, multi-message conversations while driving.
- 10 percent of parents admit to extended texting conversations while driving.
The cellphone industry reports that over 153.3 billion text messages are sent every month in the U.S. and that number is only growing. This creates a major temptation for drivers and a problem that continues to need education, laws, and alternative solutions to fix.
Other Dangerous Distractions
In 2013, 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 were injured in car crashes caused by distracted drivers. Teen drivers represent the largest group of fatalities caused by distracted driving. Ten percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time. Not all of these crashes were caused by texting, however. Other distracted behaviors include:
- Talking on a cellphone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
One thing some of the most dangerous distractions have in common is that they take the driver’s cognitive attention away from the road, even as his hands stay on the wheel and his eyes are on the road. Being deeply involved in a conversation with a passenger or on a hands-free cellphone can cause the driver to miss obstacles or hazards in his path, even though he is looking right at them.
The Distraction of New Automotive Technologies
As helpful as it is supposed to be for us, technology in newer cars can be a huge distraction for drivers. Studies have shown that hands-free voice commands, which are supposed to benefit us by keeping our hands on the wheel, are actually a dangerous distraction. The main reason for this is that the systems still require our cognitive attention which takes that attention away from the driving task. When you have to argue with your voice-command system over who you are trying to call, you lose focus on driving and could end up in an accident.
Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?
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