Distracted driving occurs when a driver diverts his or her attention from the act of driving to focus on other types of activities. The diversion can be texting, using hand held and hands free systems, and can also be merely talking to a passenger, changing the radio, eating and adjusting the temperature controls. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) reported that ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2013 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. In 2013, there were 3,154 people killed and an estimated additional 424,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes. In 2013, there were 480 non-occupants killed in distraction affected crashes.
Studies by AAA and the University of Utah reported that even after hanging up from a hands free call, unsafe mental distractions occur for up to 27 seconds after hanging up. So even after hanging up a driver could miss a stop sign, a car or a pedestrian in the lane of travel. Different models of cars with voice activated systems had varying degrees of distraction depending on the level of complexity involved in its use. As drivers of public roads we need to be mindful of our driving habits and the numerous distractions we encounter on a daily basis. Be a model for your 15-19 year old children who are the largest segment of distracted drivers. Drive safely out there.