It’s something virtually all of us do, despite a crackdown by law enforcement and chilling stories of the number of deaths and injuries that result as a consequence of our bad behavior.
Using cell phones while driving, whether texting, looking up directions, taking selfies or even talking on the speakerphone all constitute driving distracted.
According to Mashable:
Past studies from researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have shown that dialing a phone could increase a drivers’ chance of crashing by 12 times. Simply reaching for your mobile device raises the risk of crashing by almost five times.
A new study by Zendrive shows just how much people drive while distracted, which is considered to be more dangerous than taking drugs or driving while intoxicated.
In what Zendrive calls the largest behavior study on distracted driving, the company analyzed three million anonymous drivers for three months, reviewing 570 million car trips taken between Dec. 2016 and Feb. 2017, covering 5.6 billion miles.
Not only did drivers use their phones during 88 percent of the 570 million trips, but also, during hour-long drives, those behind the wheel spent an average of 3.5 minutes using their phones. That’s especially worrisome considering that life-altering damage can be done in a matter of seconds.
The researchers started with certain common sense assumptions.
- Distracted driving is dangerous
- Phone use behind the wheel is distracting, no matter what you’re doing
- Even a few seconds focused on your phone instead of the road can have dire consequences
- Everyone has phones
- U.S. traffic deaths are rising and distracted driving is contributing to this increase
- Phone use is very difficult for crash investigators to capture
States that prohibit the use of hand-held cellphones while driving include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia — plus the District of Columbia.
The top states in which drivers use their phones while behind the wheel are Vermont, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Missouri, and Massachusetts.
The New York Times reported that traffic deaths spiked in 2016 for the first time in 50 years.
After steady declines over the last four decades, highway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. And the numbers so far this year are even worse. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The cause? Driving while using cell phones.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Please pass on this message to remind loved ones that it only takes a second to change your life – and the lives of those you love – forever. A preventable tragedy is one that can be avoided if only we make the right choice.