You probably don’t often see a driver crack open a beer behind the wheel, but have you seen a commuter texting while steering with their knees recently? With an average of 660,000 people at this very moment using phones to text, tweet, peruse Facebook, or just talk behind the wheel, you probably see it often. This despite the fact that the majority of all 50 states have enacted various forms of “distracted driving” laws against phone use while driving according to a comprehensive survey conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). 

But is texting while driving really as bad as drunk driving? According to a thorough study by the University of Utah, texting could be considered as dangerous as driving at the legal limit.

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The study showed braking reaction times averaged similar impairment levels between drivers who were typing on their phone and those who had a .08 blood alcohol level (although the driving dynamics were different between the two groups).

Three years earlier just 28 states reported what is now a nationwide trend. Exactly 90.3 percent of those reported distracted drivers are “somewhat” or “much” bigger problem, conforming to the GHSA survey. 

How do we define distracted driving? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has distracted driving as a risky behavior that falls into three following categories: manual, visual and cognitive. When referring to manual it is removing your hands off the wheel, visual is taking your eyes off the road momentarily, and cognitive is taking your mind away from driving.

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Insights, Stats & Trends on Distracted Driving

As the United States (U.S) comes to grips with this growing issue some restrictions and regulations will have to be enforced to curb this behavior in the very near future. The infographic titled “Is Distracted Driving the New Drunk Driving” features the following evidence researched by the National Safety Council (NSC):

Based on the data collected 80 percent of all occurring accidents involved at least one distraction. Moreover, 26 percent of accidents included a cell phone related distraction. It is safe to say close to 3 out of 10 drivers are cell phone distracted drivers.

Here are some more facts:

  • Cell phones were used 70 percent of drivers while driving
  • Food was consumed by 86 percent of drivers while driving
  • Makeup was applied by 14 percent of drivers while driving
  • Text messaging makes a crash 23 times more likely
  • 1 in 5 drivers of all age groups confess to browsing the web while driving
  • As of December 2014, 169.3 billion text messages were sent in the U.S

As you start connecting the dots you come away with a very painful picture to process and look at.

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The reality is people in all different age categories are putting their lives at risk. As reported by Mullen & Mullen young teenage drivers are not the only drivers responsible these unsafe driving behaviors. The subsequent stats are as follows:

  • “Exactly 48 percent of teens have seen their parents drive and call on a cell”
  • “27 percent of adults admit to send and receive texts while they drive”
  • "48 percent of kids between the ages of 12 to 17 have been in a car and witness the driver text and drive minimum once

Smartphones are multifaceted tools where users can be creative, inventive and innovative with the built-in software in them. All of these statistics require each and every person behind the wheel to use a cell phone in a responsible manner and to take drastic measures to change distracted driving.

Takeaways and Conclusions

As of 1988 Statista research estimated 163 million licensed drivers. In 2010 this number rose to 210 million, which is a 28 percent increase in more drivers. With more smartphones in the hands of a growing population of licensed drivers it is paramount to make people aware of the major consequences.

Distracted driving has become a national pandemic. Expect greater restrictions by law enforcement agencies along with road transport regulating and enforcement bodies to join the efforts.  #iPhone