Distracted driving can be classified as anything that diverts your attention from the road while driving, even if for only a second. Eating and drinking, talking to other passengers, and looking at our phones are all common distractions that cause severe and even deadly accidents in the U.S. every year. The Clardy Law Firm conducted a survey of over 2,000 drivers over the age of 18 to get clear on how many people drive while distracted, and exactly what activities they were doing while trying to multitask.
“Do you regularly do any of the following while driving (please select all that apply)?”
- Talk to other passengers
- Change the music or radio station playing
- Eat or drink
- Talk on the phone
- Read or send text messages
- Check social media
- None of the above
The results of the survey showed that 51% of drivers kept their eyes on the road at all times – that leaves 49% admitting that they partake in dangerous distracted driving activities behind the wheel. That’s 49% of people you share the road with not paying full attention to the task at hand, and although that number is lower than we originally anticipated, it’s still alarmingly high.
The survey was conducted after the NHTSA launched an investigation into new Tesla vehicles that allow drivers to play games via the center touchscreen. One Tesla owner discovered he could play games like Solitaire while driving in circles, not only when the vehicle was parked as the feature is advertised. It prompted The Clardy Law Firm to examine how many people drive distracted, and what they were doing while behind the wheel.
Among the survey results, talking to other passengers and changing music were the two most popular behaviors, with 28.5% admitting to the former and 27.7% to the latter. The more concerning behaviors — reading or responding to texts and browsing social media — were less frequent, though they still represent a combined 22.9% of respondents. If the brain is thinking about anything other than the task of driving, it can make it difficult or even impossible to react during a potential crash.
Further Evidence and Studies on Distracted Driving
The slightest distraction while driving can have deadly consequences. Even seemingly harmless activities like talking on the phone or to another passenger can divert our full attention from the road. When we drive, we’re operating a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds. This is particularly dangerous because evidence has shown that our brains are incapable of multitasking.
Additional research reveals that taking your eyes off the road for five seconds — roughly the time it takes to read a text message — at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Driving with your eyes closed sounds like an absurd thing to do, but the reality is that if you’re not watching the road for five seconds you’re essentially doing exactly that.
Other studies have shown that distracted driving is more common among teenagers and young adults. It’s important for parents to not only discuss with their teens the hazards of distracted driving but also to consistently model positive behavior for their new drivers when they are behind the wheel themselves.
What Can You Do to Eliminate or Reduce Distracted Driving?
It may seem impossible to not become distracted while you’re driving, but it is avoidable. Cell phone blocking apps help you turn off certain notifications that divert your attention while you’re driving. Some smartphones have a ‘driving mode’ feature so you won’t receive alerts when it’s turned on (some can detect that you’re operating a vehicle based on motion sensors). If you’re a passenger, encourage focused driving, and help with things like navigation so the driver doesn’t have to look at their phone or a map. The text message or phone call can wait until you are stopped.
An accident resulting from distracted driving can be devastating and costly. Keep you and others on the road safe by eliminating distractions.
Distracted driving is common. If you’re in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you might be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and more.