The top three causes of car accidents in the U.S. are speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving. And according to the National Safety Council, more than 100 people are injured due to distracted driving crashes on a daily basis. What’s more, at least nine people die every day as a result of distracted driving. Considering that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, one would hope that motorists would take heed and be proactive about curbing their bad behaviors behind the wheel. But if recent data is anything to go by, it might take more than self-aware drivers to promote safe roadways.
Not surprisingly, teen drivers tend to be the worst offenders here. Due to their obsession with technology, many a teenager puts others in danger when they can’t resist the temptation to reply to a text while operating a vehicle. Some data shows drivers are 23 times more likely to crash if they’re texting while driving. But one recent study found that teens who use their cell phones while driving are at least three times more likely to get into an accident. Teens seven times more likely to be involved in a crash just because they handle or reach for something while behind the wheel, reminding us that distracted driving comes in many forms. Even hands-free technology encourages distraction that can make a motorist more likely to crash, as was revealed in a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.
Montrae Waiters, a spokesperson for AAA, explained in a statement: “Distracted driving is anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road, potentially putting motorists and others in harm’s way. If a driver is distracted by texting or changing a radio station, they may not notice law enforcement or the tow truck driver assisting a stranded motorist on the side of the road. Not focusing on the road puts your life and others at risk.”
What’s more, most drivers know that distracted driving behaviors can be disastrous — and yet they still partake in them. A 2019 distracted driving report from DriversEd.com found that 55% of surveyed participants admitted they checked their social media accounts while behind the wheel, with 25% of participants admitting they’ve recorded a video while driving. And although a recent AAA consumer study found that 44% of drivers in Michigan felt it was dangerous for someone to talk on a hand-held phone while driving, 58% of those surveyed admitted to doing just that while driving during the previous month.
Between 2012 and 2017, nearly 20,000 people died all across the country in crashes involving a distracted driver, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And in 2015, more than 391,000 people sustained injuries in distracted driving crashes. The CDC reports that there are roughly 37.2 million injury-related visits made to U.S. emergency rooms every year, but unless you’re fine with risking the safety of others around you, it’s essential to practice what you preach and put away the phone. While you’re at it, wait to eat until you reach your destination, refrain from changing the radio station, and set your built-in GPS navigation system before you ever put your car into drive.