Texting and driving a growing concern

cell-stop-signAt any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, according to a survey from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That number has held steady since 2010.

Meanwhile, a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study showed that a quarter of teens respond to text messages once or more every time they drive. Twenty percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving. NHTSA also reports that as of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the U.S. and its territories every month, according to CTIA, a trade association for the wireless industry.

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, a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study found. This study also indicated that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field – blind!

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.

People of all ages are using a variety of hand-held devices, such as cell phones, mp3 players, personal digital assistants and navigation devices while behind the wheel. Every driver, from time-to-time has attention drawn away from the driving task. The choice to engage in non-driving tasks is usually under the individual’s control and some people do so more frequently. The younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. But they’re not alone. We all do it.

Remember, using any device while driving is a choice! Please choose not to!

The Distraction.gov website offers downloadable resources to assist in awareness campaigns for the general public and the workplace. Sample programs are available for employers. There are also ways for community groups to get involved.


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