Distracted driving is becoming a dangerous epidemic worldwide, one that threatens drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike and that no insurance policy can fully protect against.

The dangers of distracted driving

December 23rd, 2015 by admin

Distracted driving is becoming a dangerous epidemic worldwide, one that threatens drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike and that no insurance policy can fully protect against.

Distracted driving is becoming a dangerous epidemic worldwide, one that threatens drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike and that no insurance policy can fully protect against. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Transportation Department, defines distracted driving as "any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving." This can include talking on cell phones and texting, but also equally distracting activities like:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Attending to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading (including maps)
  • Programming navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
  • Adjusting temperature control

Young people and texting

In 2013, 3,154 were killed in distracted driving crashes with drivers in their 20s making up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. Of the number of fatal crashes involving young people, 16 percent of teen drivers were reported to have been distracted.

Shockingly, nearly a quarter of teens say they respond to a text message every time they drive, with 20 percent of teens (as well as 10 percent of parents) admitting that they have extended, multi-message text conversations. This becomes deeply problematic, as the National Safety Council says that at least 28 percent of vehicle crashes are caused by texting and cell phone use alone. 

Texting while driving is a serious danger: When texting, you take your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. In that time, a car going 55 miles per hour can travel nearly 300 feet. A 2006 study conducted by Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute showed that it only takes two seconds with your eyes not on the road to double your risk of a crash.

The three kinds of distracted driving

Distracted driving can largely be broken down into three categories:

  • Manual distraction. This is any activity which takes hands away from the task of controlling the vehicle. Reaching for something or adjusting the radio could be an example of a manual distraction.
  • Visual distraction. This involves the driver taking their eyes off the road. Texting, watching videos or paying attention to children in the back seat are a prime example of this. 
  • Cognitive distraction. This involves when a driver's mind wanders away from the task of driving. Cognitive distraction, while not caused by direct stimuli, can be just as dangerous as an object distracting you. It may also include falling asleep behind the wheel. 

Recognizing the dangers, but is it enough?

Tremblingly, many seem aware of the dangers posed by distracted driving, but unwilling to change their behavior. According to a survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 90 percent of drivers say they recognize the danger from cell phone distractions and think it was "unacceptable" for drivers to text or send e-mail while on the road—yet five percent of the same people surveyed admitted to having done it in the previous month.

Even talking on a cell phone, which can be a dangerous cognitive distraction, yielded similar results: 88 percent of drivers surveyed said they found it a threat to safety, while two-thirds admitted they do it regularly. 

While accidents caused of distracted driving are falling as awareness increases, the truth is that drivers need to be more diligent and maintain focus on the road. With the high numbers of accidents and fatalities, there is ample reason to be cautious.

Fundy Mutual is here to provide you with the latest insurance trends and tips. Contact us today to find out more about how we provide some of the lowest rates on car insurance in Saint John and environs.