If you are a parent, thank you for clicking on this article. Thank you for fighting through the clutter of the day and intentionally choosing to consume information that may save the lives of children across America.
Now, lest you think that this is just an article about your teenage driver, you need to know that this is about you as well. The statistics tell us that parents with young children are far more likely to be distracted while driving. Yet, if you are the parent of a small child, you didn’t need us to tell you that statistic.
Distracted driving is a threat to families everywhere, and here are the statistics that every parent needs to know.
Understanding Distracted Driving
First, we must define distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are three types of distracted driving:
- Manual distractions: This is when the driver takes their hands off the wheel for a variety of reasons. It could be to change the station on the radio, perhaps pick up coffee for a sip, or maybe even pet the dog who is enjoying his afternoon ride.
- Visual distractions: This is when you take your eyes off the road. Perhaps it is to yell back at your child who is throwing a tantrum, or maybe even just to take a quick glance at your phone. It might even be to stop and take a look at the wreck you are passing of the poor soul who couldn’t overcome their distracted driving.
- Cognitive distractions: This is when your mind goes elsewhere while driving. Perhaps you are daydreaming of your upcoming vacation or maybe even playing out an argument with your spouse in your head. Your body and soul are in the car driving, but your mind is elsewhere.
However, distracted driving by any other name is still distracted driving. Some activities involve all three forms of distraction, while others may only cause one form of distraction. Many types of distractions can take your mind off the road and increase the odds of an accident.
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Distracted Driving Is a Universal Problem
As mentioned before, teenage drivers are not the lone culprits of driving while distracted. The following statistics show just how universal this problem has become.
- In 2019 alone, there were over 420,000 injuries caused as a result of distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- In that very same year, distracted driving was noted as the primary cause of traffic deaths.
- A recent survey indicates that 96% of all drivers would label themselves as safe drivers. However, 56% of those same respondents admitted to using a cellphone while driving a motor vehicle.
- In another survey, 77% of adults believe they can easily navigate their vehicle while texting on their phones.
- More than 28% of all drivers state that they fear they are missing something important when their phone presents a notification.
- Meanwhile, 8% of drivers go so far as to state that they have watched a video on their cellphone while driving.
It is clear that distracted driving is a national epidemic and has often been referred to as the “new drunk driving.”
How Distracted Driving Affects the Driver
Examining the facts closer will reveal just how distracted driving affects us all and has such a high potential to cause injury or death. Here’s what both teenage drivers and their parents need to know:
- It takes but a mere three seconds for a driver’s attention to be diverted before a car crash becomes extremely likely to occur.
- Merely adjusting the audio or climate controls while driving is enough to cause a fatality. Changing the radio or adjusting the temperature in the car accounts for many collisions caused by distracted driving.
- Reading a text message while driving will cause a driver to take their eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. When driving at speeds of 55 mph, this causes the driver to cover the distance of an entire football field with the equivalent of having their eyes closed.
- Overall, texting while driving results in a driver spending 400% more time with their eyes off the road.
- An incoming message on your phone causes an increase in the release of dopamine to the brain. This chemical feeling attributes to the feeling of arousal, making the compulsion to answer your phone stronger.
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Distracted Driving and Teenagers
While distracted driving is a threat to everyone, unfortunately, teen drivers often bear the brunt of the consequences. Here is the most recent information on distracted driving and teens:
- Distracted driving is thought to be responsible for over half of crashes involving teenagers.
- Meanwhile, car crashes are the number one cause of teenage deaths in the United States.
- When a teen has just one additional passenger with them in the car, the risk of getting into a fatal car crash doubles.
- When a teen has two or more passengers in the car, the odds of such a crash become shockingly higher at five times as likely.
We recognize the severity of the problem presented by distractions, especially for younger drivers, and we support safe driving practices in Atlanta.
Cellphone Use and Teenage Drivers
Teenagers report that the fear of missing out on notifications drives them to answer their phones––even when they know they shouldn’t. Here’s some more information about teenage motorists and distracted driving:
- Most teenagers of driving age have a cellphone for parents to reach them at all times. However, cellphone use is among the leading causes of distracted driving accidents.
- An AAA poll tells us that 94% of teenage drivers will acknowledge that texting while driving is extremely dangerous. Sadly, 35% of those same teenagers admit to texting while driving, despite the known dangers.
- Moreover, 55% of teenage drivers believe that they can pull off the task of texting while driving.
Twenty-eight percent of teenagers report that they feel they are missing something important when their phones notify them of a message or email. The above stats demonstrate just how glaring this problem is for teenage drivers.
Kids, Pets, and Other Distractions on the Road
Whereas cellphone use is a growing cause of distracted driving, it is not the lone culprit. There are many more mundane causes of distracted driving, and all must be understood. Some notable facts include:
- Over the duration of a 16-minute car ride, kids in the car will cause the average parent to take their eyes off the road for an average of 3 minutes and 22 seconds.
- In addition to kids, 65% of dog owners report being distracted by their pets while driving them as a passenger in the car.
- Only 17% of pet owners reported utilizing a pet restraint such as a seatbelt or a kennel.
- A report by the NHTSA discovered that drivers who eat or drink on the road become 80% more likely to get into a car accident.
- In a recent survey, more than 56.7% of all respondents reported eating or drinking while driving.
- One in three female drivers admitted to taking photographs while behind the wheel.
- Many motorists believe that if car manufacturers included a vivid and entertaining dashboard in the car, then it must be safe. The same is true of hands-free technology. However, both contribute to distracted driving.
- For nearly 27 seconds after the use of a hands-free device, the driver remains distracted as they struggle to focus on driving.
- Over 77 million Americans report using voice-activated systems in their cars at least monthly, while over 114 million have tried such systems while driving.
Distracted driving comes in many forms (and many are so common and innocuous) that even experienced drivers do not realize that they are being distracted.
Many drivers also feel that they can manage their distractions in a “safe” way. They may believe they can glance away from the road long enough to handle a text message or take a quick bite of food, especially if they haven’t previously been in an accident.
This false sense of security may lead to collisions throughout the Atlanta area. Even if a driver has previously avoided an accident, it does not mean that it’s safe for them to engage in distracting activities.
The Legal and Societal Costs of Distracted Driving
Injuries and fatalities are only one result of distracted driving. As states step up measures to reduce distracted driving, the legal and financial costs begin to mount. Here are some considerations:
- It is estimated that distracted driving costs society over $100 billion every year.
- DUIs, as a separate category, cost nearly $44 billion every single year.
- In many states, drivers can receive a fine of up to $500 for each incident of distracted driving.
- Meanwhile, drivers can receive a fine of $1,500 or more for their first DUI.
- At the time of publication, only 48 states have laws directly addressing distracted driving.
The comprehensive statistics on distracted driving tell a harrowing story of just how big this problem has become in the U.S. alone. Given that there is no foolproof way to test for distracted driving after an accident occurs, it is generally believed that these actual statistics are much higher.
Parents need to step up to the plate to protect their families from the dangers of distracted driving by modeling safe behavior for all. Sitting down with teen drivers to discuss the facts about distracted driving can help them learn more about this issue.
Number of Road Traffic-Related Injuries and Fatalities in the U.S.
In order to understand the full scope and impact of distracted driving, it would do well to dive deeper into the driving statistics as a whole. In the above graph, one can see the full impact of both injuries and fatalities in the United States from 1990 to 2017. (These numbers have increased since their original publication. AAA notes that collisions soared at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.)
The remarkably high number of fatalities demonstrates just how lethal a traffic accident can be when cars are traveling at such high speeds. From 2018 to 2019 alone, distracted driving fatalities increased by nearly 350 deaths, per the CDC.
Number of U.S. Adults Using In-Car Voice Assistants, by Frequency
In order to reduce distracted driving, the auto industry has embraced the use of in-car voice assistants. The intent was to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and stop them from reaching for their phones. However, data tells us that in-car voice assistants still pose a distraction for drivers.
In 2018 alone, over 70 million drivers reported using these systems at least monthly. Over 110 million drivers report at least trying the system. Drivers can minimize the distraction caused by these assistants by setting up their routes before beginning a trip or having a passenger handle the device.
Most states around the country legally allow you to use hands-free direction software while operating a vehicle. However, taking these extra steps can make the process safer, especially for teenage drivers in the Atlanta area.
Road Fatalities per 1,000,000 Inhabitants in Selected Countries
The United States has one of the highest car accident fatality rates in the world. Remarkably, the United States ranks higher than India, despite India having over twice the population.
Driving in America has become ubiquitous in American culture. In other nations, mass transit and other means of travel are more common. In another fascinating point of data, the tiny nation of Georgia, with a population of only 3.7 million people, has the highest per capita rate of road fatalities.
Total Number of Injured Persons in Motor Vehicle Crashes in the United States
This graph demonstrates the trend of injured persons over a nearly 20-year span. With advances in auto safety, the nation witnessed a decline that began in the late 1990s. However, in recent years, the number has continued to climb, which demonstrates the problem of distracted driving isn’t going anywhere soon.
Number of Traffic-Related Fatalities in the United States
In this graph that somewhat mirrors the motor vehicle injury graph, we again see the decline and the recent increase in distracted driving. As smartphones become more common, it is commonly thought that phone use in recent years has contributed to the increase in collision-related fatalities.
This connection is somewhat difficult to assess, as there is no foolproof way to prove this was the case after a fatality. Police will pull phone records at times to explore whether phone use was a factor, but this data is not always conclusive.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol in the United States, By Age Group
Another alarming fact continues to be the role alcohol plays in the United States. Distracted driving is often referred to as the new drunk driving, but drunk driving itself continues to loom large. The portion of the population at most risk is those between the ages of 21 to 25.
In many young adults, the brain is still developing and the ability to make rational decisions is not fully intact. As adults age, we can see a steady and conclusive decline in drunk driving.
Percentage of Young Drivers Who Reported Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in the U.S., By Ethnicity
As marijuana becomes legal in many states, marijuana will continue to play a role in driving under the influence. This graph breaks that trend down by ethnicity. Asian-Americans report the lowest rate of driving while under the effects of marijuana.
Meanwhile, non-Hispanic multi-cultural young adults report the highest rate. On average, the difference between many races is nominal. On average, over 4% of young adults report driving under the influence of marijuana.
Marijuana usage can impact a driver’s judgment, making them more likely to engage in risky and distracting behaviors. A driver who would otherwise ignore their phone might pick it up to text while under the influence.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol in the U.S.
This graph represents the total number of U.S. drivers who report driving under the influence of alcohol in the United States from 2002 to 2015. The CDC reports that some states have more instances of drunk driving than others. Per the CDC, Georgia has more instances of drunk driving than the national average.
With DUIs resulting in countless fatalities among non-drunk drivers, there is little tolerance for those who put the lives of others at risk.
U.S. Smartphone Activities While Driving
Taking a quick step back to distracted driving, this graph demonstrates the activities with smartphones that often lead to distracted driving. By far, texting represents the largest danger, as many report that they feel they can safely navigate texting and driving.
However, the data tells us that this is a false belief. Texting requires drivers to look away from the road, take at least one hand off the wheel, and stop thinking about what they’re doing. Email comes in a distant second place, while an alarming number report actually watching or taking a video while driving.
Source: Statista Report
Worst Types of Car Drivers According to Drivers in the U.S.
A survey among drivers in the United States reported that drivers who text are the absolute worst drivers on the road. Showing that Americans have little tolerance for the dangerous habit, text ranks twice as high as the much-maligned tailgating driver.
The frustrating and yet frequent left lane hog comes in third place.
Accidents Associated with Distracted Driving in Atlanta
We’ve discussed the numerous factors that make distracted driving a dangerous activity for your children. This behavior takes a driver’s attention away from the road for one reason or another. Distracted drivers have slower reaction times, leading to more:
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Side-impact collisions
Distracted drivers may fail to see brake lights in front of them at a red light or stop sign. They often fail to notice drivers slowing if traffic gets congested on freeways around the city, which frequently happens during rush hour every day.
These drivers may also improperly check for surrounding traffic if they want to change lanes, leading to accidents. We often see distracted drivers in accidents after they realize they’re going to miss a turn and react by swerving across lanes and into the flow of traffic.
All of these actions can lead directly to accidents, resulting in injuries, property damage, and even wrongful deaths.
Liability and Distracted Driving for Collisions in GA
If your child causes an accident, you could bear financial liability for any resulting damages. To reduce the likelihood of collisions, make sure that your teen driver understands the potential consequences of getting behind the wheel while distracted by a cellphone or another mobile device.
You could also recommend certain safety features for your teenager, such as putting their phone on “do not disturb” or on silent while driving.
Speak with Us to Learn More About Distracted Driving
Do you want to learn more about distracted driving in the Atlanta area? Reach out to our team at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers to get details about distracted driving accidents. We represent injured claimants in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Find out more by speaking to one of our car accident lawyers.