Archive for the ‘texting while driving’ Tag

Top distraction for teen drivers in crashes may surprise you

Startling new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals the disturbing behaviors behind distracted driving among young drivers.

Usually, AAA refers to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the “summer driving season,” but now, it’s giving it a much more ominous name – the “100 Deadliest Days.”

During the summer months, more teenagers are on the road and the number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers soars to an average of 10 every day — 16 percent higher than the rest of the year.

Working with the University of Iowa, AAA studied teen drivers over the past eight years, using dashboard cameras and documenting more than 2,200 moderate to severe collisions. Over that time, they saw a disturbing change in behavior.

“They’re more likely to interact with their phones via texting or social media, which is particularly scary because they’re actually then looking down, taking their eyes off the road,” said Jennifer Ryan of AAA.

According to the study, 60 percent of teen crashes today are caused by distracted driving. But perhaps surprisingly, the study found that cell phones are not the number one problem.

The top distraction for teens is other passengers, accounting for 15 percent of teen driver accidents, compared to 12 percent caused by distracted by texting or talking on a cell phone.

“What we know about teens is that when they add a passenger, they’re more likely to be distracted, they’re more likely to engage in risky behavior,” Ryan said.

Stacy Robinson lost two daughters in a crash in Texas in March. A teenage friend who was driving was looking at her phone moments before hitting an 18-wheeler head on.

“I will miss both of my daughters very much,” Robinson said, sobbing.

Now, Toron Woolridge, the brother of the two girls, spreads the word about the dangers of distracted driving.

“The best way that I can honor my sisters, the best way I know possible is to talk to youth and talk to parents and help them to understand what could happen,” Woolridge said.

AAA recommends complete bans on wireless devices for drivers under age 18, which is now the law in 30 states.

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Put down the phone and promise to drive distraction free

In 2012, nearly 3,400 people (3,328, actually) died in distraction-affected crashes, according to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT). An estimated 421,000 people were injured in crashes that involved a distracted driver. Approximately 660,000 drivers use a cell phone for talking or texting at ANY GIVEN MOMENT in time across the country.

That’s 660,000 people that could be causing a crash – right now.

That’s why companies are hard at work getting the message out about distracted driving. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and it is an awareness that every driver – whether they are one of the estimated 27% of drivers involved in a fatal crash due to distraction that is in their 20s, or a seasoned, 20-year professional driver hauling an 80,000 lb. rig down the highway who has never had so much as a traffic ticket – needs to pay attention to.

It only takes that one time to cause a crash that will alter lives forever.

Here’s another reason for commercial trucking fleets to ensure their drivers are remaining distracted-free while driving: The average work-related motor vehicle injury claim costs $69,206, according to the National Safety Council and noted by Travelers.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute says that sending or receiving a text can take a driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds – the time it takes to travel a football field at 55 mph, the insurance firm says.

(If you are interested in Taking the Pledge to drive cell-free, you can do so here.)

“Helping employees avoid distraction while driving starts with management and creating a culture committed to safety,” said Chris Hayes, second vice president, Travelers Risk Control. “Employees who drive for work often feel pressure to respond to emails and phone calls, especially from their manager. It’s important for company leaders to set the expectation that it’s better to respond later than while driving.”

Travelers went on to recite data from the AAA Foundation’s 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index. That Index found that more than two in three drivers admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving and one in four drivers admits to typing or sending a text message or email while driving.

Despite that information, according to Travelers, only 27% of its customers have a formal policy on distracted driving that is strictly enforced.

For companies interested in starting or enforcing a distracted driving policy (and really, who doesn’t?), Travelers recommends instituting a four-step program.

Create – Develop a formal, written policy stating your organization’s position on mobile device use and other distractions while driving. This policy should apply to everyone in your organization who drives a vehicle, regardless of their position.
Communicate – To be effective, safety policies should be communicated repeatedly. Have every employee who drives acknowledge in writing that they have read, understand and will follow it. Then, send regular messaging to employees via emails, newsletters and bulletin board postings to reinforce the policy.
Follow – Managers and office staff should lead by example. Let employees know that while they are on the road, no phone call or email is more important than their safety. To further prove that point, managers and other staff should defer conversations with employees until they are safely parked.
Promote – Managers should define the safe driving practices and expected behaviors of those that drive for any business purpose. They should also take the appropriate steps to understand who is following these policies, and actively promote the desired behavior.

For more information on how to help prevent distracted driving, visit or Prepare and Prevent-Distracted Driving.

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Distracted Driving Dangers


Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

Using a cell phone or smartphone
Eating and drinking
Talking to passengers
Reading, including maps
Using a navigation system
Watching a video
Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses. On this page, you’ll find facts and statistics that are powerfully persuasive. If you don’t already think distracted driving is a safety problem, please take a moment to learn more. And, as with everything on, please share these facts with others. Together, we can help save lives.

Got questions? Visit our FAQ! Want even more information? Look at sample research reports.

Key Facts and Statistics

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.

10% of injury crashes in 2011 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

As of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the US (includes PR, the Territories, and Guam) every month. (CTIA)

11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.

For drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones (NHTSA)
At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. (NOPUS)

Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times. (VTTI)
Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. (VTTI)

Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use. (VTTI)

A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving. (UMTRI)

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