According to research from a new IIHS report, distracted driving was a large contributing factor in over 800 accidents resulting in death in the United States during 2017. There was a 1.1% increase in cellphone manipulation from the last report in 2014 compared to this more recent one done in 2018. While people are not talking on the phone as much as they used to, there is a significant increase in people who are fiddling with their phones.
A national survey done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2018 showed that 64% of people consider distracted driving a much bigger problem today than it was three years ago and that does not go without proof. The risk that your accident will lead to fatal injuries is 66% higher when you are using a cellphone. Co-author and HLDI senior research scientist, David Kidd, say that the information suggests that drivers are using their phones in ways that are riskier on the road. The manipulation of the device is highly dangerous because it affects your ability to process information from the road and it narrows your focus.
The IIHS had various observers taking notes about the drivers of Northern Virginia and calculated that 23% of drivers were engaged in visible distracted driving activities. The list includes talking on the phone, looking down at their phone, wearing an earpiece or headphones, singing, eating, smoking, etc. There are many things that can be considered distracted driving that play a part in this increase of distracted driving-related accidents. The common misconception is that it is not always cellphone usage that causes these accidents. Compared to 2014, it is more likely that drivers would be involved in a crash if they were engaged in dangerous activities that didn’t involve a cellphone specifically. These crashes have been happening more frequently because people are using the built-in screens on their car, grooming themselves, or merely holding an electronic. We can make our roads safer by staying focus on driving. The less we multi-task while operating a moving vehicle, the less accidents we are going to cause.
The full IIHS report with comparative evidence can be found here.