“Despite the fact that it deadens a driver's reactions more than alcohol, and in its consequences is as destructive and devastating as drunk driving, attitudes to driving while using a hand-held mobile phone and driving under the influence could not be more different.”
Calum MacDonald, The Herald
Text messaging, talking on a cell phone, putting, watching a movie, writing a grocery list, nursing a baby or putting in contact lenses: Secondary activities have become an everyday occurrence behind the wheel of American motorists. A growing shift in focus from the roadway to a multitude of other tasks impairs the ability of modern drivers, and the U.S. traffic statistics mark this drastic change.
Even though research shows that certain influences (such as drowsiness or conversation) cause greater impairment than driving drunk, over 7 million people believe that their focus is unaffected by these behaviors. (Liverpool Victoria)
Distracted driving has eclipsed drunk driving as the Number One safety concern of the driving public.
Facts about Distracted Driving:
- Distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Alcohol-related accidents among teens have dropped. But teenage traffic fatalities have remained unchanged, because distracted driving is on the rise. (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Study and NHTSA Study)
- While over 90% of teen drivers say they don't drink and drive, nine out of 10 say they've seen passengers distracting the driver, or drivers using cell phones. (National Teen Driver Survey)
- Brain power used while driving decreases by 40% when a driver listens to conversation or music. (Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University Study)
- More than 80% of drivers admit to blatantly hazardous behavior: changing clothes, steering with a foot, painting nails and shaving. (Nationwide Mutual Insurance Survey)
- Drivers on mobile phones are more impaired than drivers at .08 BAC. (University of Utah Study)
- An estimated million people each day chat on their mobile or send text messages while driving. (The Herald)
- 41 percent of drivers admitted they had “fallen asleep or nodded off” while driving at least once, 11 percent said they had done so within the past year, and four percent said they had fallen asleep behind the wheel in the previous month. (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey)
- Drowsy driving causes an estimated 1,550 deaths a year and 40,000 injuries. (CDC Report)
Over the past two years almost every legislature has considered or passed laws which address distracted driving. Nine states ban handheld cell phone use and a majority of state has banned texting while driving.
The New Jersey Legislature even considered a bill that would mandate the same penalties for cell phone users and drunk drivers when involved in a fatal accident. New Jersey is also the only state in the country to ban driving while fatigued.**These distractions are benchmarked to the established relative crash risk associated with driving with a 0.08% BAC, the legal drunk driving limit in all states.