Distracted driving consistently ranks as one of the traffic safety issues at forefront of many drivers’ thinking. Each year, more than 80% of drivers in the annual AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index cite distraction as a serious problem and a behavior that makes them feel less safe on the road. Nearly half of all people who say they feel less safe than they did five years ago say distracted driving by other drivers fuels their concerns.
Distracted driving is a deadly behavior. Federal estimates suggest that distraction contributes to 16% of all fatal crashes, leading to around 5,000 deaths every year. Our latest research has discovered that distraction "latency" lasts an average of 27 seconds, meaning that, even after drivers put down the phone or stop fiddling with the navigation system, drivers aren't fully engaged with the driving task.
The AAA Foundation believes that by improving our understanding of how mental and physical distractions impair drivers and by educating the public about avoiding distractions, we can eliminate these needless deaths.
Our work in this area also focuses on how distraction affects specific groups. Teens are among the drivers most impaired by distraction. A recent AAA Foundation in-car study showed that teen drivers were distracted almost a quarter of the time they were behind the wheel. Electronic devices, such as texting, emails, and downloading music, were among the biggest distractions, accounting for 7% of the distractions identified on the study video. Another study on distracted driving from naturalistic in-car data collection and analysis showed that distraction related crashes for teens were more prevalent than initially thought.
It's one thing to read about the statistics; it's quite another to see in-car footage of real distraction events caught on camera:
Please visit our completed projects section for all of our in-depth research on distracted driving,
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Key Facts: Distraction
- Drivers spend more than half their time focused on things other than driving.
- Distraction contributes to more than 5,000 traffic fatalities each year. Know the facts.
- Texting and phone calls aren’t the only distractions. Passengers, eating, and in-car technologies can also cause distractions.
- Distracting events include "latency". Texting while stopped at a traffic light can negatively affect full driving engagement once the light turns green for an average of 27 seconds after you've stopped texting.