Though teens have had the spotlight as reckless distracted drivers, research now suggests that adults seem to be texting and driving just as much. Teens have been the subject of many campaigns about safe driving and distracted driving habits, but new research says that adults might be more to blame than previously thought.
Distracted driving behavior has received a lot of attention lately as lawmakers look for ways to make it safer for everyone on the road. Teen drivers have a disproportionate number of accidents on the road, and their reliance on cell phones and text messaging has earned them a reputation as some of America’s most dangerous drivers.
Just How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?
According to research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, driving distracted reduces a vehicle operator’s ability to take in the road and respond quickly to developing situations, like traffic. Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (an umbrella which covers texting, dialing, and even reaching for the phone) increases a driver’s likelihood of getting into an accident by as much as three times.
In the study, text messaging and browsing the internet resulted in the longest period during which drivers took their eyes off the road. For those drivers who were text messaging, they, on average, took their eyes away from the road for about 23 seconds total. Even portable hands-free devices that used visual-manual tasks at least half the time (like dialing a number from a vehicle dashboard) increased a driver’s chances of an accident.
Even the act of reaching for the phone or pressing the “end call” button force a driver to pull his or her attention away from the road. During that time, the driver could even lose control of the vehicle or hit another car, pedestrian, or biker. The risk of serious accidents as a result of texting is part of the reason that many states have instituted bans on texting and driving.
What About Adults?
Research from AT&T shows that adults may be more to blame than teenagers when it comes to texting. While nearly all adults (98 percent) admit that they know the behavior is wrong, only half of teenagers indicated that they were aware the behavior was wrong, dangerous, or illegal. Currently, 39 states forbid texting and driving by all drivers, but a handful of other states ban the practice for new drivers alone. This new research shows that texting and driving is dangerous for everyone.
There are about 10 million teen drivers on the road, but there are 180 million adult drivers sharing those same roads. Studies from the Centers for Disease Control show that as many as one-third of those adult drivers have admitted to texting or browsing the web while operating a vehicle.
The Sad Statistics
Every day, nine people are killed and over 1,000 individuals are injured in accidents where distracted driving was a critical component of the incident. While the government doesn’t specifically track crashes that occurred as a result of texting and driving, it’s still considered the most dangerous distraction activity on the road. That’s because texting requires the hands, the mind, and the eyes, leaving little attention on the driving situation.
I am Kay Van Wey of Van Wey Law, and I am committed to eliminating this activity that is taking so many lives needlessly. My campaign, Just Put it Down, urges teens and adults to take a pledge and promise to put phones down when behind the wheel. It’s just not worth it. Visit www.JustPutitDown.com with your family members and take a pledge that takes less than 30 seconds, but could save a life.