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Researchers Count Distracted Drivers on I-95

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distracted driving

Chart shows number of crashes caused by distracted drivers, by category.

For a distracted driving research study, SR22Agency.com recorded drivers from an overpass on Interstate 95 in South Florida for 20 minutes during rush hour. At the same time, the research team had a camera with a time-lapse remote take photos of the same stretch of roadway once a second for 20 minutes.

Lulu Chang wrote for Digital Trends that the study found that 185 of the 2,151 cars studied (8.6%) were driven by people who were distracted. According to SR22Agency.com, the distracted drivers were either talking on the phone, texting, eating, or doing something else that kept them from focusing on the road. The “other” category included such behaviors as looking into other cars, applying makeup, staring at their own face in the mirror, and reaching into the back seat.

SR22Agency.com has made the video available online. (The researchers have sped up the 20-minute-long video to run for only two minutes.) In the video, as the cars drive towards the viewer, color-coded tags come up, showing which vehicles have drivers who are talking on the phone, texting, eating food, or engaging in other types of distracted behavior.

In the footage, the most prevalent type of distracted behavior was talking on the phone (150 drivers), followed by texting (17 drivers), and then eating (12 drivers). There were six drivers doing other types of distracted behavior, but the study noted, “Though other distractions comprised the fewest incidences, the behavior is nonetheless risky.”

Texting Most Dangerous

Texting while driving is the most dangerous type of distracted driving behavior, because it requires three types of attention — visual, manual, and cognitive — and takes the driver’s focus off the road for an average time of 5 seconds. But talking on the phone while driving results in more accidents because people talk on phones more often and for longer periods of time than they text.

The report notes that Florida, where the film was recorded, allows people to talk on cell phones while driving. Would the study results have been different in a state that bans all phone use in vehicles? The National Safety Council (NSC) says that hands-free devices are as dangerous as hand-held ones because they take the driver’s mind off the road.

Distracted Driving Casualties

The NSC found that driving while speaking on the phone (whether hand-held or hands-free) results in a fourfold risk of an traffic accident. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation say that in 2013, there were 616,000 distraction-affected accidents that caused property damage alone, 284,000 such crashes that caused injuries, and 2,910 distracted driving accidents that resulted in deaths.

SR22Agency.com urges drivers to think about the dangers of distracted driving before driving:

The important phone call, the urgent text, the on-the-go-meal because you skipped lunch — it’s still not worth it. It’s not worth risking a life. It’s absolutely vital to pay attention while you drive — to keep your eyes and mind on the road and your hands on the wheel. Plan ahead by eating before you go, put your cell phone out of reach (such as in the back seat or glove compartment) before you drive, and vow to pull over if you do need to use your phone, GPS, or other device.

Chart courtesy SR22agency.com.

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