Study: Drivers Aware of Distracted Driving Risks Do It Anyway
Although more than one-third of American drivers know that distracted driving is dangerous, most of them engage in it anyway, talking and texting while at the wheel, according to a new study. The study, by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that 95% of drivers know that texting or using a cell phone for calls while driving is a safety risk, but 35% go ahead and do it anyway. Distracted driving can take many other forms as well, such as applying makeup, eating, drinking, changing radio stations, programming GPS systems, tending to animals or children in the car, and chatting with (other) passengers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that 20% of all injury crashes in 2009 involved distracted driving. In that year, nearly 5,500 people died in vehicle crashes involving driver distraction, with those victims accounting for 16% of all roadway fatalities. And federal safety officials say the numbers have worsened in the last several years. Whereas distracted driving caused about 10% of traffic fatalities in 2005, the percentage had risen to 16% by 2009.
Why do drivers ignore the risks they are aware of? Kim Jackson, writing for KTUL.com, asked a therapist:
Why can’t we just leave it alone? Therapist Nic Gould says we are just like four year olds sometimes, no self control.
‘If I am told you cannot have this package right now, you can’t even look in this package all I want to do is what ? look in the package and that little cell phone is screaming out for me to look,’ he explained. He says it is a lifeline. out of fear, or excitement, we answer, almost all of us.
‘Even I tell myself, I will do that at the next stop light. problem is, I let that permission when I am at the wheel, give me permission when I’m not at a stoplight,’ he admitted.
He says the cure is treating yourself like a four-year old, putting the phone away, out of reach.
In a related news item, The Texas Transportation Institute found in a new study that a driver’s reaction time doubles when they are talking or texting on a cell phone. The study, which was released on Wednesday, says that a driver’s reaction time is worse than had been previously believed, and makes it harder for drivers to react to sudden road hazards. During the three or four seconds that a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting, that driver can travel the length of a football field on a highway, the study’s head, Christine Yager, told Reuters, as reported on redOrbit.com.
One comment posted below a SacBee.com article about the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study says this:
I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS based texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences call ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.
Erik Wood, owner
Check out AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Tips to Being a Heads Up Driver.