The latest NHTSA statistics show that 3,166 Americans were killed in car crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017. Despite the alarming—and irrefutable—evidence that distracted driving kills, 80% of drivers still read text messages while driving, according to the 2019 Distracted Driving in America survey conducted by DriversEd.com.
Distracted driving remains a serious problem in America and it doesn’t stop with texting. This year’s report—which was conducted as a follow-up to the inaugural Distracted Driving in America Report, released last year—found that drivers confessed to watching videos, vaping, and even swiping on dating apps while behind the wheel. Below is a summary of findings from this year’s survey, plus expert analysis.
Distracted driving refers to any behavior that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your attention away from driving. Even taking a few seconds to check your phone or change radio stations puts you at an increased risk of causing an accident.
DriversEd.com’s 2019 Distracted Driving in America Report revealed an array of dangerous behind-the-wheel behaviors that drivers admit to engaging in:
- TEXTING AND DRIVING: 80% of drivers admit to reading text messages and 67% admit to typing messages while driving.
- VAPING AND DRIVING: Of vape device users with a driver’s license, 54% admit to vaping while behind the wheel.
- SWIPING AND DRIVING: Of dating app users with a driver’s license, 21% have checked a dating app on their phone at the wheel, while 15% have swiped and 15% have messaged a match.
- SELFIE-TAKING: 34% of drivers have taken a picture on their phone, while 13% have taken a selfie.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: 22% have checked Facebook, while 16% have checked Instagram.
- VIDEO WATCHING: 12% have watched YouTube videos, while 10% have watched Facebook videos.
- YELP AND MAPS: 55% have looked up directions on their phone, while 20% have used Yelp.
- FOOD AND COFFEE: 64% have eaten, while 23% have spilled coffee.
- CIGARETTES: 22% have smoked cigarettes while driving.
The Dangers of Vaping and Driving
Over the past year, vaping has come under the spotlight due to an alarming number of teens who vape being hospitalized. But what about the issue of vaping and driving?
Laura Adams, safety and education analyst at DriversEd.com, asserts that the consequences of vaping and driving can be deadly. “The act of vaping itself carries serious health risks, especially for young people. Vaping and driving take those risks and adds the risk of both impaired driving and distracted driving. These numbers of vaping and driving are startling, and parents need to speak to their teen drivers on this issue,” says Adams.
Further, according to the 2019 Distracted Driving in America survey, 52% of Americans say that vaping and driving should be illegal—which is not reflected in the current rules of the road. Vapers operating a vehicle, however, are subject to local laws addressing careless driving, distracted driving and drugged driving, depending on the substance in the e-cigarette.
Meanwhile, according to the CDC, from 2017 to 2018, the use of e-cigarettes and vapes increased from 11.7% to 20.8% among high school students.
Solutions to Distracted Driving
Most behind-the-wheel distractions can be avoided, or—at the very least—minimized. Below are a few ways to enhance your safety while on the roads.
Everyone thinks they’re the world’s greatest multitasker. However, a motor vehicle is not the place to practice your multitasking skills. Eating and drinking, putting on makeup, doing your hair, and taking a phone call all while driving is a recipe for disaster. Finish your grooming, select your music or podcast of choice, and set your GPS before you start driving.
Speak with Your Teens
For those who with teen children who drive: have a candid conversation with them about the dangers of distracted driving. There are many tools available to help your teen resist their phone, as DriversEd.com has covered in the past. According to the CDC: “Six teens aged 16 to 19 die every day from motor vehicle crash injuries. Per mile driven, teen drivers aged 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.”
Use a Parent-Teen Driving Contract
Hold your teen accountable with DriversEd.com’s parent-teen driving contract, which sets driving rules and expectations, along with penalties.
Plus: Don’t drink and drive over the holidays
The holidays are quickly approaching. It’s one of the most dangerous times of the year to be on the road. Christmas and New Year merrymaking often go hand-in-hand with increased alcohol intake and reckless driving. If you plan to celebrate, do so responsibly. Choose a designated driver, ask someone to pick you up after a party, or use Uber or Lyft.
Always be extra vigilant when driving over the holiday season. Even while you are sober, other drivers you are sharing the road with may be under the influence.
“When it comes to distracted driving—and other hazardous driving behaviors, from drinking and driving to drugged driving to drowsy driving—the reality is that most accidents, injuries and deaths are largely preventable. For drivers, a strong driver’s education combined with awareness and self-discipline ultimately saves lives,” says Adams.
The 2019 Distracted Driving in America survey was conducted online using Survey Monkey. One thousand and sixty eight participants were polled, spanning across the United States, with the U.S. driving population represented by the 969 respondents who answered that they have a driver’s license, the vaping device user population represented by the 259 respondents who answered that they had used a vaping device in the past 12 months and the dating app user population represented by the 237 respondents who answered that they had used a dating app in the past 12 months. The demographics of those polled represented a broad range of household income, geographic location, age and gender.