While there have always been many distractions on the road, new technology have given drivers many more distractions then ever. Research shows that using a cell phone while driving can be as risky as driving drunk. However, unlike drunk driving, a distracted driver consciously and soberly decides not to pay attention to the road. Drunk driving was once considered publically acceptable until advocates fought to change laws and attitudes. Distracted driving must be addressed with the same level of attention.
The crash risks and injuries are real
A study by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that driver inattention led to eight out of 10 of all crashes and 65 percent of all near crashes.
Nationwide, 5870 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver while more than half a million were injured. Over 1300 people are injured every day on our nationʼs highways as a result of a distracted driving crash. (NHTSA)
In 2006, researchers at the University of Utah concluded, “the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.” No difference was found between hand held and hands free phones.
A study by VTTI that found professional truck drivers who sent text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to crash or nearly crash.
Recommendations for effective, enforceable distracted driving legislation
- Ban all distracted driving!
- Distracted driving, cell phone bans and texting bans should be primary enforcement laws. Primary enforcement means an officer can ticket the offender without another violation having occurred. PennDOT must give distracted driving as much priority as it gives its drunken driving, seatbelt, and motorcycle awareness campaigns.
- The income from all fines for distracted driving should be put towards outreach campaigns and targeted traffic enforcement for the safety of all road users. Fines in school zones should be doubled and the money should go to a School Zone Safety Fund to support Safe Routes to Schools and infrastructure upgrades to increase safety for children.
Distracted Driving (136.6 KiB)
downloadable pdf version of this fact sheet