Open main menu

Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaging in other activities which distract the driver's attention away from the road. Distractions are shown to compromise the safety of the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and people in other vehicles. [1]

Cell phone use while behind the wheel is one of the most hotly contested modes of distracted driving.[2] According to the United States Department of Transportation, "texting while driving creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving while not distracted."[3] Studies and polls regularly find that over 30% of United States drivers had recently texted and driven.[4][5][6] Distracted driving is particularly common among, but not exclusive to, younger drivers.[7][8]

Contents

Types of distractionsEdit

Distractions while driving can be separated into three distinct groups: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions involve taking one's eyes off the road; for example, looking at a GPS system or checking a child's seat belt in the rear view mirror. Manual distractions involve taking one's hands off the wheel; for example, when searching for something in a bag, or eating or drinking in the car. Cognitive distractions occur when an individual is not mentally focused on the act of driving, and his/her mind "wanders".[9] Some distractions can combine some or all of these groups, such as texting and/or calling on one's cell phone.[10]

Driving distractions can greatly vary in form and severity. They range from the use of cell phones and other electronics to rubbernecking[11], carrying passengers (including children[12][13] and pets[14][15]) in the vehicle, eating[16], and searching for misplaced items.[17]

Distraction ratesEdit

A 2016 study[4] found that nearly 50 percent of drivers admitted to doing the following while driving: reading a text message, sending a text message, checking their phone for directions, and using social media. Overall, nearly 60 percent of respondents admitted to using their cellphone at least once while driving. Older age was strongly correlated with decreased cell phone distraction scores.

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 35 to 50 percent of drivers admit to using a smartphone while driving, while 90 percent of drivers fear those who do.[18]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2011 study found that 69% of respondent drivers between 18 and 64 years old admitted to calling on the phone while driving in the month before the survey, and that 31% sent or read an email or text message.[19]

A Harris Poll survey[5] in February 2015 showed differences in distracted driving by United States region, with 24 percent frequency in the Northeast, 28 percent in the Midwest, 30 percent in the West, and 35 percent in the South. 4% more males texted and drove than females. The age groups and percentages of members who texted and drove were 18-34 (51 percent), 35-44 (39 percent), 45-54 (33 percent), 55-64 (14 percent), and 65+ (7 percent).

According to a HealthDay poll from November 2011,[6] most adults who drive confess to engaging in distracted driving behaviors. In addition to use of electronic devices, behaviors admitted include eating or drinking (86 percent), combing or styling hair (at least 20 percent), and applying makeup (14 percent). The poll also reported younger drivers and males had higher rates of distraction. A study from the president of Hagerty Insurance Agency found that coffee, hot soup, tacos, chili, hamburgers, and barbecued foods were the most dangerous to try and eat while driving.[13]

According to a study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 15 percent of reported crashes were due to a teen driver distracted by talking with a passenger. Another 12 percent of crashes occurred because a teen was either talking, texting or searching for information on a cellphone while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that distracted driving accounts for 25 percent of all crashes involving teenage drivers.[20]

Hazard assessmentEdit

A New England Journal of Medicine study in 2013 estimated the following crash or near-crash risks among novice drivers:[11]

Activity Odds Ratio
Calling on a phone 8.3
Reaching for a phone 7.1
Sending or receiving text messages 3.9
Reaching for an object other than a phone 8.0
Looking at a roadside object (Rubbernecking) 3.9
Eating 3.0
Interaction with radio (or head unit) 1.0

A 2003 study of U.S. crash data estimates that distracted driving contributed to 8-13 percent of police-reported crashes, with phone use sourcing 1.5 to 5 percent of these. Driver inattention contributed to an estimated 20-50 percent of crashes.[21] The most-reported cause of distraction-related accidents was "outside person, object, or event" (commonly known as rubbernecking), followed by "adjusting radio/cassette player/CD". "Using a phone" was the eighth most reported cause. In 2011, according to the NHTSA, 1/3 of accidents were caused by distracted driving.[22]

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 1.6 million (25%) of crashes annually are due to calling on a smartphone, and another 1 million (18%) are caused by texting while driving. These numbers equate to one accident caused every 24 seconds by driving distracted from phone use. It also reported that speaking in a call while driving reduces focus on the road and the act of driving by 37 percent, irrespective of hands-free calling operation.[23] Calling on a phone is estimated to increase the risk of experienced drivers crashing or nearly crashing by a factor of 2.5.[11] The US Department of Transportation estimates that reaching for a phone distracts a driver for 4.6 seconds; at 55 miles per hour, this could equal a football field of distance.[24]

A study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that talking to a passenger was as distracting as talking in a call on a hands-free smartphone[25], and a study by Monash University found that having one or more children in the car was 12 times more distracting than calling while driving.[12] Devid Petrie of the Huffington Post deemed backseat children passengers the worst distraction for drivers, and recommended pulling over in case of crying children.[13] According to an AAA study, 80 percent of respondents with dogs had drove with them, but 31 percent of these admitted to being distracted by them, and only 17 percent used any form of pet restraints.[14]

Boston Globe correspondent Lucia Huntington stated that "eating while operating a vehicle has become the norm, but...proves costly for many drivers. Soups, unwieldy burgers, and hot drinks can make steering a car impossible. Although the dangers...are apparent and well known, drivers ignore them repeatedly, accounting for many crashes and near-misses."[16]

Risk characterizationEdit

The rising annual rate of fatalities from distracted driving corresponds to both the number of cell phone subscriptions per capita, as well as the average number of text messages sent per month. From 2009 to 2011, the number of text messages sent increased by nearly 50 percent.[26]

Distracted driving offenders are more likely to report driving while drowsy, going 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, driving aggressively, not stopping at a red light or stop sign, and driving while under the influence of alcohol.[27]

The American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that younger drivers are overwhelmingly more likely than older drivers to text message and talk on cell phones while driving. However, the proportion of drivers aged 35–44 who reported talking on cell phones while driving is not significantly lower than those drivers aged 18–24 who report doing so.[28] More than 600 parents and caregivers were surveyed in two Michigan emergency rooms while their children, ages 1–12 years, were being treated for any reason. During this survey, almost 90% of drivers reported engaging in at least one technology-related distraction while driving their children in the past month. The parents who disclosed conducting phone calls while driving were 2.6 times likely to have reportedly been involved in a motor vehicle crash.[29]

Accident risk assessmentEdit

In 2011, Shutko and Tijerina reviewed a large naturalistic study of in field operational tests on cars, heavy product vehicles, and commercial vehicles and buses and concluded that:

  • Most of the collisions and near misses that occur involve inattention as a contributing factor.
  • Visual inattention (looking away from the road ahead) is the single most significant factor contributing to crash and near-crash involvement.
  • Cognitive distraction associated with listening to, or talking on, a handheld or hands-free device is associated with crashes and near-miss events to a lesser extent than is commonly believed, and such distractions may even enhance safety in some instances.[30]

Effects on the brainEdit

Brain activity without distractionsEdit

The somatosensory association, parietal and visual cortices are not significantly activated during simple driving tasks, like driving straight or making a right-hand turn. A left turn with no oncoming traffic presents a little more activation in the premotor cortex, somatosensory area, visual and parietal cortices, as well as the cerebellum. When oncoming traffic is introduced while trying to make a left-hand turn, there is a significant activation multiple bilateral regions in the mid-posterior braid, which includes motor and premotor areas, visual, parietal, and somatosensory regions, and the cerebellum.[31]

Brain activity with distractionsEdit

When something as simple as answering general knowledge true-or-false questions are introduced as a distraction to the driver, the brain activity is increased during both straight driving and when turning left with the presence of oncoming traffic. When just driving straight, which showed very little brain activation without distraction, is paired with answering simple questions, there is a significant increase in brain activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex bilaterally, along with the auditory cortex and parietal lobes. There was also decreased activation in occipital-visual regions of the brain. When a left turn plus traffic, which already yielded the most activation of the undistracted driving tasks, had audio tasks added to the tasking, auditory, motor, somatosensory, visual, parietal, and cerebellar regions were activated. There was also significant additional activation bilaterally in the anterior brain areas, mainly in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and frontal polar region.[31]

Driving abilityEdit

The areas of the brain that have decreased activation during a moment of multitasking are areas of spatial processing and spatial attention. Because of this, it is important for drivers to focus on only the task at hand, driving. Even though driving becomes a primary cognitive function, when drivers are distracted (e.g.on their cell phones, talking to passengers, or fiddling with the radio), the areas of the brain that need to be activated to safely operate the vehicle are not.[32]

ConsequencesEdit

The rate of incidents associated with distracted driving is growing in the United States. According to an NHTSA report, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in the United States from motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. The report states that 80% of accidents and 16% of highway deaths are the results of distracted drivers. [33]

Incidents related to distracting driving have been particularly common among young drivers. In 2008, there were 23,059 accidents involving 16- to 19-year-olds, which led to 194 deaths. Of these deaths, 10 percent were reported to be caused by distracted driving. Throughout the United States, over 3,000 deaths and 416,000 injuries annually can be attributed to distracted driving.[34] Driving while texting is about 4 times more likely to result in an accident than drinking while driving, while the risk of injury requiring hospital visitation is 3–5 times greater than for other types of accidents.[35]

Some distracted driving accidents include:

In 2017, Thames Valley Police in England issued a video of a truck driver who killed a family by driving whilst using his mobile phone.[36]

In 2013, numerous people were also killed in the Santiago de Compostela derailment where the driver had been using the telephone.

SolutionsEdit

LegislationEdit

Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) have passed laws related to distracted driving.[37] Additionally, 41 states, DC and Guam have banned text messaging for all drivers, and 10 states, DC and Guam prohibit drivers from holding phones while driving.[38] However, no state currently completely bans all use of the device, including hands-free.[39] Each state varies in the restrictions placed upon drivers.[40]

Current US laws are not strictly enforced. Punishments are so mild that people pay little attention. Drivers are not categorically prohibited from using phones while driving. For example, using earphones to talk and texting with a hands-free device remain legal.[37]

Laws have not led to consistent driver compliance. Hand-held phone usage fell in New York in the five months after the hands-free law took effect. However, it returned to near the prior level by the 16-month mark.[41]

Other stepsEdit

Another approach is through education. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and NHTSA conducted a series of initiatives and campaigns, such as "One Text or Call Could Wreck It all", "Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks" advertisement, and "Faces of Distracted Driving". The "Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks" commercials advocate safe driving habits via vivid scenarios,[42] attempting to make the consequences of distraction more tangible. The "Faces of Distracted Driving" is a DOT online video series that focuses on individuals who have been personally affected.[43]

In the August 2013 issue of Motor Age magazine, the NHTSA released voluntary guidelines covering the use of in-car infotainment and communication devices. "Proposed items include disabling manual text entry and video-based systems prohibiting the display of text messages, social media or webpages while the car is in motion or in gear. The goal: Don't take the driver's eyes off the road for more than two seconds at a time, or 12 seconds in total by limiting drivers to six inputs or touches to the screen in 12 seconds".[44]

The cellular network providers AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and several hundred other organizations have teamed up to create the "It Can Wait" campaign, that started on May 20, 2013 (Wireless Leaders Unite for "It Can Wait" Campaign to Curb Texting While Driving, 2013). The campaign is an attempt to inform young drivers that no phone call or text message is worth a life.[45]

Washington State has also created a video PSA to educate people about the dangers of distracting driving.[citation needed]

Some employers have taken steps to reduce distracted driving beyond current legislation; The military permits only hands-free use of phones. Freight companies ban phone use while driving.[46] In October 2009, President Obama signed an executive order banning federal employees from sending texts in government cars.[13]

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood introduced his "Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving," a plan for reducing distracted driving accidents and related deaths.[47] This blueprint encourages the eleven states without distracted driving laws to enact such legislation. It challenges the auto industry to adopt guidelines to reduce the potential for distraction. It recommended that states partner with driving educators on new curriculum materials.[48]

TechnologyEdit

Automakers are providing dashboard and heads-up displays to allow driving information to be available without the driver looking away from the road. Gesture- and voice-based interfaces simplify controlling the vehicle and its services. Mobile applications may disable communication, blank the screen or limit access to applications or programs when the device is in motion. A similar approach is under investigation by telecom providers.[49]

On January 7, 2014, an article in CNNMoney announced a partnership between AT&T and car manufacturers Audi and Tesla. AT&T head of emerging devices, Glenn Lurie, told CNNMoney that these advancements reflect a major step forward in converting cars form mindless machines to intelligent gadgets. AT&T says everything is going to be connected. The car will be easier to use, safer, reduce distracted driving, and deliver infotainment. When asked, "Will these innovations increase distracted driving?", Mr. Laurie replied, "Visual distractions will be limited to passengers as drivers can keep their hands on the wheel". One will need only their voice to send messages and communicate with their car.[50]

Toyota is working on perfecting technology that will monitor driver's eyelids to ensure that they are looking at the road. Other vehicle manufacturers are also working on similar technology. For example, General Motors has a pilot program to monitor distraction. Likewise, Jaguar Land Rover monitors the driver's eyes to create the 3D image for its "Virtual Windscreen".[51]

Cellebrite has reportedly developed a textalyzer device that can be used to scan a vehicle driver's smartphone after an accident or incident to determine whether the phone was used to make calls, send text messages and/or emails when the vehicle was in motion.[52]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Larson, Aaron (18 July 2016). "Distracted Drivers and Auto Accidents". ExpertLaw. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Smart Phone Use, Texting and Auto Accidents | ExpertLaw". www.expertlaw.com. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  3. ^ "Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operations" (PDF). U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b Gliklich, Emily; Guo, Rong; Bergmark, Regan W. (December 2016). "Texting while driving: A study of 1211 U.S. adults with the Distracted Driving Survey". Preventive Medicine Reports. 4: 486–489. doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.09.003. ISSN 2211-3355. PMC 5030365. PMID 27656355.
  5. ^ a b "Erie Insurance distracted driving survey finds drivers doing all sorts of dangerous things behind the wheel—from PDA to taking selfies to changing clothes - The Harris Poll". theharrispoll.com. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  6. ^ a b "Most U.S. Drivers Engage in 'Distracting' Behaviors: Poll". HealthDay. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  7. ^ Gliklich, Emily; Guo, Rong; Bergmark, Regan W. (December 2016). "Texting while driving: A study of 1211 U.S. adults with the Distracted Driving Survey". Preventive Medicine Reports. 4: 486–489. doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.09.003. ISSN 2211-3355. PMC 5030365. PMID 27656355.
  8. ^ "Erie Insurance distracted driving survey finds drivers doing all sorts of dangerous things behind the wheel—from PDA to taking selfies to changing clothes - The Harris Poll". theharrispoll.com. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  9. ^ "Three main types of distraction". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Texting while driving". U.S Department of Transportation. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  11. ^ a b c Klauer, S. G.; Guo, F.; Simons-Morton, B. G.; Ouimet, M. C.; Lee, S. E.; Dingus, T. A. (2014). "Distracted Driving and Risk of Road Crashes among Novice and Experienced Drivers". New England Journal of Medicine. 370 (1): 54–59. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa1204142. PMC 4183154. PMID 24382065.
  12. ^ a b "Children more distracting than mobile phones, Monash University". Monash.edu. 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  13. ^ a b c d Kiesbye, Stefan. Distracted Driving. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2012. Print.
  14. ^ a b "Driving with your dog can be dangerous: here's why." Dog Watch 14.10 (2010): 2. General OneFile. Web. 27 Sept. 2013.
  15. ^ "Driver Distractions - Don't Be a Statistic." Driver Distractions - Don't Be a Statistic. Web.
  16. ^ a b Huntington, Lucia. "Eating Behind the Wheel Is a Distraction." Distracted Driving. Ed. Stefan Kiesbye. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. At Issue. Rpt. from "The Real Distraction at the Wheel." Boston Globe 14 Oct. 2009. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 27 Sept. 2013.
  17. ^ "U.S. DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Distracted Drive Report released September 2017". Retrieved 16 Oct 2017.
  18. ^ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, September 2010
  19. ^ "Distracted Driving." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 07 Mar. 2016. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.
  20. ^ "Distraction and Teen Crashes: Even Worse than We Thought - AAA NewsRoom". 25 March 2015.
  21. ^ Eby, David; Lidia Kostyniuk (May 2003). Driver distraction and crashes: An assessment of crash databases and review of the literature (PDF). The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
  22. ^ Albright, Brian. "NHTSA distracted driving guidelines." Motor Age Aug. 2013: 12. General OneFile. Web. 20 Sept. 2013.
  23. ^ Understanding the Distracted Brain (PDF), National Safety Council, March 2010
  24. ^ Distracted Driving: What You Need to Know, US Department of Transportation, retrieved July 18, 2012
  25. ^ "Measuring cognitive distractions" (PDF). Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  26. ^ Wireless Quick Facts, International Association for Wireless Telecommunications, December 2011
  27. ^ Beck KH, Yan F, Wang MQ. Cell phone users, reported crash risk, unsafe driving behaviors and dispositions: a survey of motorists in Maryland. J Safety Res. 2007;38:683-8
  28. ^ Cell Phones and Driving: Research Update (PDF), Automobile Association of America, December 2008
  29. ^ Kilgore, Christine. "Parents--not just teens--are distracted while driving." Pediatric News July 2013: 4. Academic OneFile. Web. 11 Oct. 2013.
  30. ^ Shutko, J. and Tijerina, L., (2011), Ford's Approach to Managing Driver Attention: SYNC and MyFord Touch, Ergonomics In Design, Vol. 19, No. 4, October 2011, pp. 13-16
  31. ^ a b Schweizer, T. A.; Kan, K.; Hung, Y.; Fred, T.; Naglie, G.; Graham, S. (2013). "Brain activity during driving with distraction an immersive fMRI study". Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 7 (53): 1–11. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00053. PMC 3584251. PMID 23450757.
  32. ^ Just, M. A., Keller, T. A., & Cynkar, J. A. (2008) A decrease in brain activation associated with driving when listening to someone speak. Elsevier. 70-80
  33. ^ NHTSA, Staff Writers. "Distracted Driving". NHTSA. NHTSA. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  34. ^ Get the Facts. Available at http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html. Accessed June 28, 2012.
  35. ^ McEvoy, SP; Stevenson, MR; McCartt, AT; et al. (2005). "Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study". BMJ. 331 (7514): 428. doi:10.1136/bmj.38537.397512.55. PMC 1188107. PMID 16012176.
  36. ^ Lambert, Maxime (13 July 2017). "Sécurité routière : la police anglaise veut que tous les conducteurs voient la vidéo de cet horrible accident de voiture" (in French). Gentside. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  37. ^ a b Ibrahim, J.K.; Anderson, E. D.; Burris, S. C.; Wagenaar, A. C. (2011). "State Laws Restricting Driver Use of Mobile Communications Devices: Distracted-Driving Provisions, 1992–2010". American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 40 (6): 659–665. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2011.02.024. PMID 21565659.
  38. ^ "State laws". U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  39. ^ National Safety Council, (2017) The State of Safety - A State-by-State Report. Itasca, IL. accessed at:http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/State-of-Safety/State-Report.pdf
  40. ^ "GHSA". www.ghsa.org. Retrieved 2017-07-07.
  41. ^ Kolko, J.D. (2009). "The Effects of Mobile Phones and Hands-Free Laws on Traffic Fatalities". The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. 9 (1): 1–26. doi:10.2202/1935-1682.2004.
  42. ^ "Public Awareness Campaigns". U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  43. ^ "DOT Launches Faces of Distracted Driving Site as Part of Ongoing Awareness Campaign". Professional Safety. 56 (1): 12. 2011.
  44. ^ Willins, Michael; Brandyberry, Tschanen, eds. (2013). Motor Age. 132. PixelMags Inc.
  45. ^ Quisenberry, Phillip Neil."Texting and Driving: Can it be Explained By the General Theory of Crime?" American Journal of Criminal Justice 40.25 (2015;2014;): 303-16. Web.
  46. ^ National Safety Council. Employer Cell Phone Policies. Available at www.nsc.org. Accessed June 15, 2012. Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS): Cell Phone Policies of Companies with Best Fleet Safety Performance. Available at www.trafficsafety.org. June 15, 2012
  47. ^ "U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Issues 'Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving,' Announces $2.4 Million for California, Delaware Pilot Projects". Nhtsa.gov. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  48. ^ "U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Issues 'Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving'". U.S. Department of Transportation. 7 June 2012.
  49. ^ Stay informed today and every day (2013-11-30). "Monitor: Fatal distraction". The Economist. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  50. ^ Feldman, Joel. "The next generation of Audi and Telsa automobiles are about to become more like smartphones on wheels thanks to AT&T." End Distracted Driving. End Distracted Driving, 24 Jan. 2014. Web.
  51. ^ "Toyota takes self-driving step with patent for eyelid detection device". Autoblog.com. 23 March 2015.
  52. ^ David Kravets (2016-04-11). "First came the Breathalyzer, now meet the roadside police "textalyzer"". Arstechnica.com. Retrieved 2016-04-28.

External linksEdit