“Cognitive distraction” is how statisticians and researchers describe not paying attention to the road. Drivers who allow themselves to be distracted by something inside or outside of the car risk accident. Studies show that the impairment of cognitive distraction is as significant as alcohol.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Consider some of these statistics regarding cognitive distraction while out on the road.
- 1 in 4 car crashes involve cell phone usage by the driver. These crashes result in over 3000 fatalities annually.
- A quarter of all teens will check their phone once or more every single time that they are driving
- Teen drivers, already a higher risk for accident, multiply that risk four times when a cell phone is in use.
- Even hands free devices can cause cognitive distraction. Focusing on a conversation with someone outside the car can take away from the task at hand.
- Children in the back seat can be a cognitive distraction if they are not able to be tuned out. Finding a distraction for them can keep them from becoming a distraction to you.
- Doing anything other than driving can increase your risks for a car accident. At 55 MPH, four seconds spent checking a text or finding a radio station is equivalent to driving more than the length of a football field blindfolded.
Luck Breeds False Confidence
When it comes to being safe on the road, many people adopt an “I got this” attitude. They have used their cell phones (done their make up, read the paper, eaten their lunch) before without incident. Why should today be any different? While I am sure that there are drivers living with the regret that an accident occurred “the one time I ever ______ed behind the wheel,” my guess is that most drive regularly with distraction and it was only a matter of time.
For distracted driving statistics to change, all drivers must do their part. Past good fortune cannot be used to inform future driving decisions. If there are things inside the car that are potential distractions, we must be willing to put them away. As for outside of the car, our eyes should always be on the road ahead.
Once upon a time, drinking and driving posed the biggest threat to driver safety. Thanks to public education, raised awareness and an increase in personal responsibility, death rates continue to fall every year. Let’s all do our part to bring down distracted driving accidents, too.