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U.S. Drivers are Distracted More than Half the Time

Written by Tom Crosley
Car Accidents, Vehicle Wrecks
  1. 1. Driving Distracted: Cell Phones
  2. 2. Other Driving Distractions
  3. 3. Drunk Driving
  4. 4. Stay Safe While Driving

A new study shows that drivers in the United States are distracted more than half the time they are driving. Let that sink in. More than half the time someone is driving, he or she is distracted by something. That means there is an extremely high chance of someone not paying 100% attention to the road when driving behind you, around schools and playgrounds, through busy intersections and interchanges, and at dawn and dusk when people are often walking, jogging, cycling, etc.

It’s a scary statistic.

To add to that, the World Health Organization reported that in 2013, the United States ranked 17th out of 29 high-income nations for the most traffic deaths per 100,000 people. The United States has more traffic fatalities than the United Kingdom, Canada, Brunei, and the Philippines, just to name a few.

What could possibly be so important that we are putting our lives (and the lives of so many others) at risk?

Driving Distracted: Cell Phones

Researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have suggested that Americans have become worse at driving. While doing their research, they found that drivers were distracted more than half the time, resulting in doubling (or more!) their risk of a car crash. They also noted that at least 70% of analyzed car accidents involved “some type of observable distraction.”

The main distraction: cell phones, from dialing to talking to texting. A person merely reaching for a cellphone was 5 times more likely to be in a car crash.

When texting while driving, in particular, 5 seconds is the minimum amount of time your eyes are off the road. That doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize that when traveling at a speed of 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field (100 yards).

It’s a scary reality.

Researchers have found some other startling distracted driving statistics:

  • 1 in 5 drivers has surfed the internet while operating a vehicle
  • 1 in 3 has sent text messages while driving
  • 1 in 2 has talked on the phone while driving

Is what we’re surfing, sending, or saying important enough that it is worth causing a crash? No.

Unfortunately, cell phones are not the only type of distraction we need to be concerned with.

Other Driving Distractions

Distractions are everywhere at every moment of driving. From other people in the car to other drivers on the road to contemplating our busy lives, there’s no shortage of distractions. Any type of distraction significantly increases your chances of causing a car crash. It’s dangerous no matter how harmless changing radio stations, interacting with passengers, being emotional or upset (feeling sad or angry or crying), personal grooming, or applying makeup may seem. Any and all distractions take away from your cognitive ability to focus on the primary task of driving.

Drunk Driving

Another dangerous type of distracted driving is drunk driving, even though it is not always considered a distraction. Driving while intoxicated impairs your decision-making skills, vision, cognitive abilities, reflexes, and motor function. Drinking and driving is incredibly dangerous and should be avoided at all times.

Stay Safe While Driving

While you can’t control the actions of other drivers any more than you can control the weather, you do have complete control over your actions. Be sure to adjust the radio and other car settings, check the map or GPS, and turn off or stow away your cell phone before you start your vehicle. Stay calm while driving, and be sure to let any passengers in the car know that your main priority is to get to your destination safely; you’ll be surprised at how mindful they will be of anything that might distract you.

Also be sure to set a good example for your passengers, especially children, when driving. They parrot what they see and hear. Let your children know that distracted driving is unacceptable and that we depend on others to practice safe driving habits so everyone can get to their destinations safely.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, especially if it was the result of someone else’s distracted driving, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact Crosley Law Firm at 210-LAW-3000 or 877-535-4529 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with us today.


DWI: Driving while intexticated [infographic]. (2015). Don’t Text and Drive Retrieved from http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stats

Marshall, A. (2016, March 8). U.S. drivers are distracted more than half the time they’re behind the wheel. CityLab. Retrieved from http://www.citylab.com/commute/2016/03/major-distractions-for-drivers/472656/

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