The National Safety Council (NSC) recently released the results of its latest survey on the distracted driving habits of American drivers. An astonishing four out of five drivers surveyed admitted that they use their cell phones to answer texts and calls from family members while they are behind the wheel. Despite the statistics that a distracted driver is four times more likely to become involved in a car accident, the majority of teenagers, young adults, and mature drivers surveyed report that they are still engaging in cell phone usage while actively driving.
The National Safety Council recently designated the month of April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month and focused its attention on getting the message out that there is no acceptable use of a cell phone while driving, including hands-free devices. Voice command text messaging and phone dialing are not a safe means of cell phone usage either. It has been proven that the brain is unfocused for 27 seconds after engaging in these types of activities, which means that for almost a full half minute, a driver’s attention is taken off the road. That is a long time to drive with the equivalent of having your eyes closed.
Distracted Driving Statistics
According to the latest statistics provided by the National Safety Council, 26 percent of all fatal car accidents involve a distracted driver. Over 9,000 lives were lost in the year 2014 alone because a driver was engaged in some form of distracted driving. Drivers can be distracted by a host of activities behind the wheel including onboard navigation and infotainment systems, but cell phone usage is still the highest reported distraction for drivers involved in car accidents.
As national campaigns and new legislation to reduce distracted driving continue to emerge, the NSC recommends that families begin their own active safety programs at home. Parents and adults need to model safe driving behavior by turning off cell phones while driving and refusing to answer text messages or phone calls while behind the wheel. Families with young drivers need to educate their children about the importance of safe driving habits, especially when it comes to cell phone usage behind the wheel.
Deterring Distracted Driving
Free online resources and safety programs aimed at deterring distracted drivers are available to the public and are highly effective at helping families establish rules and codes of conduct for all drivers in the household. In a recent survey, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 20 percent of drivers aged 18-20 and 30 percent of drivers aged 21-34 still believe that texting has no negative impact on their ability to drive safely. Clearly, education on the dangers of distracted driving has to begin at home and be reinforced to ensure the safety of all drivers on the road.