A recent Virginia Tech study showed that of crash and near-crash occurrences, 80 percent of all crashes, and 65 percent of all near-crashes, involved a distracted driving incident within three seconds of the event.
In fact, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Alcohol-related crashes among teens have dropped, but teenage traffic fatalities have remained unchanged beacause distracted driving is on the rise.
The primary culprit: cell phone use, whether talking—or worse, texting.
"The issue is that cell phone use is a prolonged activity, demanding the attention of the driver for more than a split second," says Jimmy Maass, Safety Coordinator at Farm Bureau Insurance. "This inattention to the road, in abundance, causes far greater risk to drivers than it appears."
Even so, Maass points out certain activities that are at least as dangerous when driving as using a cell phone:
- Reaching for a moving object (9 times increase in crash risk)
- Driving drowsy (5 times increase)
- Looking at an external object (4 times increase)
- Reading (3 times increase)
- Dialing a phone (3 times increase)
- Applying makeup (3 times increase)
More than 80 percent of drivers admit to having done blatantly hazardous behavior behind the wheel, such as changing clothes, painting their nails, or shaving.