According to a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nine out of 10 U.S. drivers believe that distracted driving is a bigger problem now than it was a mere three years ago. Unbelievably, despite growing awareness of this problem, 53% of survey respondents admitted to sending texts or emails while behind the wheel. "As a safety advocate, AAA finds it concerning that the majority of motorists recognize distracted driving dangers, yet choose to engage in them anyway," said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. "Drivers of all ages contribute to this problem. However, this issue tends to be more prevalent among young drivers, as electronic devices, such as cell phones, are proven to be the most common form of distraction for teens."
Facts about distraction and its effect on driving performance:
• There are four basic kinds of distraction: visual (looking at something besides the road); cognitive (thinking about something other than driving); physical (using your hands to perform a non-driving related task); and auditory (listening to something not associated with driving). Depending on the cause of a driver's distractedness, more than one of these forms of distraction may occur at the same time.
• Numerous studies indicate that all forms of distraction have a detrimental effect on driving performance. However, texting is widely viewed as the most "alarming" source of distractedness because it involves three of the four basic kinds of distraction (visual, cognitive and physical). Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than non-distracted drivers.
• While texting may be one of the most driving risky behaviors, it's certainly not the only distraction that can increase a driver's risk of having an auto accident. Other potentially dangerous non-driving related tasks include using a cell phone (whether it's hand-held or hands-free), eating and drinking, talking to passengers, reaching for objects, and fiddling with the radio. Trying to perform any of these tasks while behind the wheel reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving, making you less likely to identify potential roadway emergencies and respond to them promptly and safely.
Avoiding distraction: Tips for Columbia drivers
• Turn off your electronic devices when you're behind the wheel. Stowing them where you can't see or reach them can help you avoid the temptation to use them while driving. If you can't turn off or silence your phone while you're driving, pull over in a safe location to answer important calls or messages.
• If you're traveling with passengers, have a companion answer any calls or messages that can't wait until you arrive at your destination.
• Don't try to save time by performing certain tasks during your drive-time. If you're short on time, don't try to make up a few minutes by eating or grooming while you're behind the wheel.
• Remember that safe travel (for you, your passengers, and the other motorists traveling near you) should be your number one priority. The vast majority of non-driving related tasks can wait until you've arrived safely at your destination. Help reduce preventable accidents caused by driver distraction, and keep your attention on the road.