The latest National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHSTA) statistics show that 3,142 U.S. drivers were killed as a result of distracted driving in 2020 alone. Despite the alarming — and irrefutable — evidence that distracted driving kills, many are still guilty of it. As an example, in a survey conducted by The Zebra in January 2021, more than one in five respondents admitted to texting while driving.
Distracted driving remains a serious problem in America, and it doesn’t stop with texting. As drivers try to get more done while they're behind the wheel, activities such as eating, taking photos, and applying makeup while driving are increasingly pulling attention away from the road and leading to accidents.
Distracted Driving Statistics Across the Country
Distracted driving is 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.
The Zebra’s driver survey uncovered a variety of dangerous behind-the-wheel behaviors and some surprising attitudes about distracted driving. Here's a look at the respondents bad habits:
Eating while driving: 52.5% of drivers
Texting while driving: 23.6% of drivers
Taking photos while driving: 11.7% of drivers
Applying makeup while driving: 6.5% of drivers
Drinking while driving: 3.4% of drivers
Not only are drivers engaging in dangerous behaviors, but an alarming number of respondents don’t fully understand just how irresponsible their habits are.
Only 36.54% of respondents said they “completely agree” that using a mobile device hinders your ability to drive.
Despite numerous studies showing that texting while driving and driving drunk both limit your capacity for focus and awareness, less than 50% of respondents agreed that the two activities are equally dangerous.
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, or taking a phone call 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.
Educate Your Teens
As a parent, it’s important to talk with your teens about safe driving habits. You can also help them resist the urge to use their phone while behind the wheel by installing tools to eliminate distractions.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), teens between the ages of 16 and 19 have a higher rate of motor vehicle crashes than any other age group. Not only can a frank conversation help address some of the dangerous behaviors teens sometimes engage in, but completing a Parent-Teen Driving Contract can further solidify your expectation for your teen to engage in safe driving habits while they are behind the wheel.
Set a Good Example
It’s hard to tell your teens not to engage in risky behaviors when they see you doing the same things. Whenever you’re behind the wheel, put 100% of your focus on getting you and your family to your destination safely. Avoid using your phone, eating, drinking, or fiddling with the radio or your GPS system. It may seem like a harmless behavior, but eliminating these types of distractions may save a life.
Sharpening your defensive driving skills is one of the best ways to stay safe on the road. If you or your teen could use a refresher, DriversEd.com’s online course is the perfect solution. Check it out today!