The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers cost millions of dollars in damages and claim thousands of lives country-wide each year. As more and more mobile devices emerge on the market, including smart phones, PDAs and tablets, many motorists simply cannot resist their temptation and become distracted while driving.

AAA released the results of a survey it conducted this past summer regarding distracted driving—specifically, mobile phone usage while behind the wheel. They polled a representative sample of Americans aged 16 and over from June 6–28th about interacting with their mobile devices while driving, in particular making calls, receiving calls, composing and sending text messages, and reading text messages.

Results indicate that the vast majority of drivers within the United States acknowledge that driving while distracted is an enormous problem. In fact, as reported by CBS New York, 88% of survey participants said that driving while talking on the phone is a safety hazard. 95% of respondents are concerned about people emailing or texting while behind the wheel—compared to 93% who claim to be worried about drunk drivers. Overall, 87% of those polled professed to be in support of laws that would criminalize behavior such as reading, writing, or sending text messages and emails while driving while half—50%—said they would be in support of laws to forbid drivers using their cell phone in any manner.

However, CBS New York went on to reveal that 68% of respondents to that same AAA survey admitted to having talked on a mobile device while driving within the past month. Over half of that, 68%, said they only pulled out their phone when stopped at an intersection, and that they were far more likely to answer incoming call than to dial out. 35% of drivers polled copped to having written or read a text message behind the wheel and, as with phone calls, most maintained they only did so when stopped at a traffic light and were more likely to read messages while on the road as opposed to writing them.

Fumbling with electronics is not the only way for a driver to lose focus on the road. Eating, drinking, smoking, applying make-up, flipping through radio stations, and even conversing with passengers are all behaviors a driver can engage in that could result in their being dangerously distracted.

A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that some 20% of all car crashes resulting in injury during 2009 involved distracted driving. The data shows that approximately 5,500 people died that year in motor vehicle crashes which involved driver distraction. Those victims accounted for 16% of all traffic-related fatalities, reports the Sacramento Bee.

In order to keep the cost of auto insurance low, drivers must maintain a clean driving record that is free of accidents and traffic tickets. Just one moving violation—be it a speeding ticket, a DWI, reckless driving, or a citation for driving while using your mobile phone—can cause an auto insurance premium to skyrocket. Drivers can research car insurance quotes online to make sure they are getting the best available rates.

Here are AAA’s ten tips for being a better-focused driver, from their website:

? Plan ahead.

? Stow all electronic devices.

? Prepare kids and pets for the trip.

? Satisfy that craving off the road.

? Store loose gear and possessions.

? Get your vehicle road-ready.

? Dress for success—before you get in the car.

? Get your brain in the game.

? Evaluate your own behavior from the other side of the road. 

? Use new technology to make you a better driver.