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Distracted Driving And The Impact It Makes

April 09, 2024


As many as one in three U.S. adults admits to using some kind of technology while driving, whether it’s entering an address into a navigation system, talking on a cellphone, changing a radio station, or some other distraction. Truth be told, that number is probably much, much higher.

Millions more engage in other distracting driving behaviors that take their attention away from the road. Eating behind the wheel, using social media, and even talking with hands-free devices can all dangerously distract drivers and lead to big problems.

What is the real impact of distracted driving and how does it affect your employees? The biggest cost is loss of life. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2021 there were 3,522 people killed and an estimated additional 362,415 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Additionally, each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes caused by a distracted drivers.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Taking your eyes off the road even for two seconds doubles the risk of a crash, according to AAA’s research. A driver driving 25 mph can travel the length of four football fields during the time it takes to simply enter an address into a navigation app.

And just because a form of technology is voice-activated doesn’t necessarily make it safer. Research shows that drivers using in-vehicle technologies including touchscreen navigation features and voice-based text were both visually and mentally distracted for more than 40 seconds.

The problem is serious. As many as one in three adults in the U.S. admits to using some kind of technology while driving.

The problem is especially prevalent among younger drivers. Another recent AAA study found that drivers ages 19 to 24 were 1.6 times as likely (66%) as other drivers (40%) to report having read a text message or e-mail while driving in the last 30 days. Drivers in this age group were also almost twice as likely (59%) as other drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving.

Social media is another huge distraction, with drivers reading and posting to social sites like Facebook and Instagram – and even snapping selfies – from behind the wheel. Though they’re the biggest offenders as a group, millennials are by no means the only ones guilty of using technology behind the wheel. For many professionals, vehicles have become their mobile offices, enabling everyone from salespeople to delivery drivers to manage their workday more efficiently.

But this convenience doesn’t come without a cost.

As one of the leading causes of accidents leading to injury and death, distracted driving isn’t just dangerous — it’s also illegal. Many states have implemented driving laws to target a wide range of distractions behind the wheel.

In some states, writing and reading texts, e-mails and instant messages is illegal. Other states prohibit drivers under a certain age from using any handheld device while driving, and many states have extended the rules to prohibit all kinds of hands-free interactions.

All this isn’t to say that drivers should give up the conveniences of in-dash navigation and infotainment. The AAA researchers also found that most systems could easily be made safer by following federal recommendations such as locking out the ability to program an in-dash navigation system while the car is in motion.

Keep Your Eyes Moving®

The best line of defense against these distractions is to have drivers who are well-trained behind the wheel. They also need to be disciplined enough to concentrate on the road and tune out all the possible diversions inside the vehicle.

Key Three of the Smith5Keys® – Keep Your Eyes Moving® – speaks directly to the dangers of distracted driving.

While driving, it’s imperative that drivers stay focused on the road. One way for them to do this is to always keep their eyes moving. Scan the roadway — don’t stare. By shifting their eyes every two seconds —and checking their mirrors every five to eight seconds — drivers are able to stay more aware of their surroundings and are better equipped to fight fatigue and remain alert.

Research shows that any repetitive motion can send a person into a trance, which is especially dangerous behind the wheel. Consistent eye movement prevents the body from entering a trance state and keeps drivers alert to the conditions ahead — including the movements of other drivers.

Most of today’s vehicles come equipped with in-dash technology, so monitoring your own driving habits isn’t always enough to avoid a crash. To stay safe, drivers must adopt safe technology practices behind the wheel – but also keep their eyes moving and always be alert for other distracted drivers on the road.

In conclusion, distracted driving poses a significant risk to road safety, leading to thousands of fatalities and injuries each year. By understanding the types of distractions, implementing proactive measures such as the Smith5Keys®, and advocating for distracted driving policies within organizations, we can work towards reducing these alarming statistics. One effective way to enhance awareness and promote safe driving practices is by taking advantage of resources like the free Arrive Alive course. This course offers valuable insights and practical strategies to help drivers stay focused and attentive on the road, ultimately contributing to safer driving habits and fewer accidents.

FREE COURSE  Arrive Alive: Avoiding Distractions