04 Feb Just how bad is distracted driving anyway?
We’ve all experienced it on the roads.
You’re driving along and then, out of the blue, the chime or buzz of your cellphone. Do you look at it?
It’s an innocent question with consequences that can be huge, even deadly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2016 about 3,450 people were killed in crashes caused by distracted driving. The year before that, the NHTSA says, 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
Though the category includes other forms of distraction not related to phone use — such as eating or applying makeup — cell phone use has become a major cause of today’s collisions. The safety administration estimates more than 480,000 drivers nationwide are using their cell phones at any given minute, with teens being the largest age demographic to use electronics at the wheel.
Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health found that almost a third of all adults read or sent texts and emails at the wheel within the last month; when looking only to young adults, that number may be as high as 71 percent. What may be even more alarming is that an NHTSA survey found 20% of drivers age 18-20 said texting does not affect their driving. And nearly 30% of drivers ages 21-34 said texting has no effect, all despite research from the NIH showing significantly higher rates of incident for drivers who text on the road.
The cognitive dissonance on this doesn’t do any good for anyone. Despite what we believe about ourselves, humans are actually terrible at multi-tasking, a fact psychologists have known for years. So the next time you’re at the wheel and your phone goes off, either let a passenger read it or leave it alone until you reach your destination. When your life or someone else’s life could be at risk, the text can wait!