May 30, 2017

Distracted Driving Behaviors

license plate that says no textingWith all the technically advanced luxuries and amenities available today, more people exhibit distracting driving behavior behind the wheel. Common behaviors include text messaging, making phone calls or even eating breakfast on the morning commute.


The problem has grown into such a widespread threat to the motoring public that the U.S. Department of Transportation held a special two-day summit in late September. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) conducted a study that revealed nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention or distraction within three seconds before the event.


5 Distracted Driving Behaviors


The majority of drivers are guilty of some manner of distracted driving behavior at some point. The important thing for driver safety is to identify the behavior and commit to keeping it out of the car.


Text Messaging


Another component of the July 2009 VTTI study shows that texting is one of the most dangerous behaviors a driver can engage in. The study shows that drivers engaging in text messaging in a heavy vehicle or truck are 23.2 times more likely to crash than other non-distracted drivers.


The CDC has proven that texting is the leading cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities among teenage drivers. Each year, texting while driving claims at least 3,000 lives, the vast majority of which are teenagers. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit to holding extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.


Dialing a Cell Phone


Dialing a cell phone while the vehicle is in motion is very dangerous because drivers are taking their eyes off the road. Speed-dialing can divert up to 3 seconds of a driver’s attention away from the road, while manual dialing can take up to 12 seconds. Drivers from the VTTI study who dialed phones were 2.8 times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers. When driving heavy vehicles or commercial trucks, the drivers’ risk of a crash increased to 5.9 times. The VTTI study concludes:


“These results show conclusively that a real key to significantly improving safety is keeping your eyes on the road. By contrast, tasks such as listening to audio books (which VTTI terms as “cognitively intense”) come with much lower risks.”


Dealing with Children in the Car


Passengers inside the car can always be a distraction, but this increases whenever a parent is dealing with young children. Misbehaving and loud children don’t understand how their behavior affects the driver and endangers their own safety. Kids might bicker or throw tantrums, causing their parents to take their eyes and attention away from the road.


Playing with the Controls


As the navigation and entertainment systems inside cars become more complicated, the distractions facing the driver have increased in recent years. Touchscreens may be innovative, but because they offer no tactile feedback, they’re very difficult to use without glancing away from the road. Newer cars are coming equipped with redundant stereo and climate controls on the steering wheel, giving the driver less reason to take his/her hands off the wheel. Drivers should use steering wheel controls whenever possible.


Eating on the Go


Three percent of respondents in a 2008 Nationwide Mutual study claimed they believed eating was the most dangerous distraction while driving. Back in 2006, Privilege Insurance conducted a test in England to show how dangerous eating can be. In the simulator, drivers had to navigate an urban road once without eating, and a second time while eating or drinking at two intervals — just as a pedestrian stepped onto the road. The number of crashes doubled during the food and drink trial. The information was well-known, far before texting brought the national focus onto distracted driving in the US.





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