It's no secret that distracted drivers pose a serious threat to roadway safety. Federal research reveals that using a cell phone while driving (either handheld or hands-free) impairs a driver's reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08%. In this post, our Kansas City personal injury lawyers discuss recent research on the problem of distracted driving and recommend a few strategies to help Missouri drivers avoid distraction-related crashes.
Americans and cell phones: Statistics from the Pew Research Center
• 2012 findings from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project indicate that approximately 87% of adults in the U.S. now own a cell phone.
• Of that number, about 45% own a smartphone, and 55% report using their mobile phones to access the internet (nearly double the number reported in 2009).
• Americans send almost 200 billion text messages every single month (up nearly 50% compared to 2009).
• Around 67% of cell phone users report checking their phones for messages and notifications even if they don't hear a notification sound come from the device - in fact, 18% of cell phone owners reported doing so "frequently."
Distracted driving in the United States: Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control
• According to a CDC survey, 69% of Americans between ages 18 and 64 admitted to talking on their cell phones while driving within the previous 30 days. In addition, 31% of respondents said they had texted while driving within the past month.
• The problem of cell phone use among drivers is worse in the U.S. than it is overseas. The survey, which included seven European countries, found that drivers were the least likely to text in Britain, where distracted driving laws are very strict. Only 21% of drivers in Britain admitted to talking on the phone while driving within the previous 30 days.
• In 2011, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in U.S. crashes where distraction was reported as a contributing factor.
Preventing car accidents caused by distraction: Resisting the urge to text while driving
• Keep your cell phone out of your line of sight so you won't be tempted to talk or text.
• Turn off your phone's notifications sounds when you're behind the wheel.
• Allow a passenger to be your "designated texter" and respond to any messages that require an immediate reply.
• Pull over to answer important calls and messages.
• Download a distracted driving app. (Click here to read a description of six popular mobile applications designed to prevent distracted driving.)