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What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses. In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. Furthermore, an additional 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver – compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.

Though there are countless distractions on the road and in the car, here are a few of the following:

  • Texting or using a cell phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading (even maps)
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
  • Watching a video (or CD display)

Because text messaging required visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is far one of the most alarming distractions. As of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the US (including Puerto Rico, the Territories, and Guam) every month.

Distracted Driving Statistics

  • 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. (This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted).
  • For drivers aged 10 to 18 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent of distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones.
  • At any given moment throughout America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phone or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent (at 55 mph) of driving the length of an entire football field.

Avoidable or Inevitable?

A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive – 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended multi-message text conversations while driving. Obviously, avoiding all of these behaviors will greatly benefit all drivers on the road, but the reality is that they still occur.


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