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The dangers of distracted driving continue


Every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes the National Occupant Protection Use Survey, where drivers can feel free to self-report handheld cell phone use in their respective motor vehicles.

The most recent data is troubling, revealing that cell phone use while driving is up 0.3% with the overall number of vehicles at approximately 472,486. That number is moving closer and closer to half a million. The tragic stat resulted in close to 3,000 people killed in accidents caused by distracted driving on a national level.

Troubling findings

Specific data revealed that two age groups (20 – 29 and 30 – 39) represented the largest category of cell phone users. Combined, both compose a disproportionately large segment of drivers using and being distracted by cell phones while driving. More than 27 percent of distracted drivers were 20 to 29 years old, with one in five aged 30 to 39.

Taking into account all age groups, more than half of drivers admitted to holding/talking on a cell phone.

A 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety not only backs up NHTSA findings but also reveals troubling indicators:

  • Most respondents expressed disapproval of distracted driving., yet cell phone use was completely or somewhat approved by 17.5 percent of respondents.
  • Drivers admitting to holding and talking on a cell phone at least once every 30 days exceeded the halfway point of the number of drivers at 52.1 percent.
  • Fewer drivers (41.4 percent) confessed to reading a text or email within the past 30 days.
  • One-third reported that they typed or sent a text message in their moving car over the past 30 days.

Distracted driving, regardless of the reason, is a problem that is not going away anytime soon. Some data points towards progress in reducing, if not eliminating, cell phone use in cars. However, those statistics seem to be outliers. The saying “old habits die hard” applies. Without changes in what appears to be continually evolving into automatic routines, more injuries and deaths will occur on roads nationwide.