April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

March 2017

The National Safety Council (NSC) has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distraction is a factor in 80% of crashes. The significant increase in cellular phone use has served as the catalyst for the growing interest and overall problem of driver distractions.

What is driver distraction and how can it be defined? Driver distraction is not just talking on a cell phone when driving. Driver distraction is a form of inattention in which a driver is delayed in the identification or recognition of information needed to properly and safely accomplish the task of driving because some activity, event, object or person within or outside of the vehicle compels the driver to shift their attention away from the driving task. One NHTSA report roughly estimates that drivers engage in potentially distracting secondary tasks approximately 30% of the time their vehicles are in motion. Conversation with passengers is the most frequent secondary task. Other distractions include:

• Talking or texting on a cell phone

• Eating and reading

• Manipulating controls

• Navigation and hand held computers or devices

• Smoking

• Route Problems – looking for route and/or traffic signs

• Unfamiliar situations such as staring at an automobile crash

Supporting Facts and Statistics

• Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

• Cell phone use attributes to an estimated 6 percent of all crashes, which equates to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year. (Harvard Center for Risk Analysis)

• No difference exists in cognitive distraction between hand held and hands-free devices. Research shows that driving while using a cell phone can pose serious cognitive distraction and degrade driver performance. (NHTSA)

• 80 percent of crashes are related to driver inattention. The number one source of driver inattention is cell phones. (Virginia Tech 100-car study produced for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

• The annual cost of crashes caused by cell phone use is estimated at $43 billion. (Harvard Center for Risk Analysis)

• Talking to a passenger while driving is significantly safer than talking on a cell phone. (University of Utah study)

• The National Safety Council polled 2,000 members about employee use of wireless communication devices. The study found that 469 companies prohibit both handheld and hands-free devices while driving for some or all employees. Of those, 99 percent said productivity did not decrease.


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

National Safety Council

American Society of Safety Engineers

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

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