Distracted Drivers Gamble with Your Life
Did you know texting drivers kill more people than drunk drivers? If your one of them wake up and stop being distracted behind the wheel!! Talk to your teens people and think about this yourself the next time you do it personally. Could you or a family member be the next one to die by distracted drivers? If you saw a drunk driver swerving all over the road would you call the police? Maybe its time we did it for texting and cell phone drivers!! I'm just saying......


Monday, July 25, 2011

We’ve all seen them, and maybe we are them—the drivers pressing cell phones to their ears as they zip past us on the freeways, or on city streets, or wheel around parking lots looking for empty parking spaces. Some drivers even hold the steering wheel with a couple of fingers and their palms while tapping out text messages.

Scenes like this are warnings to me. And not only because of these drivers’ apparent insensitivity to the safety of others but also due to the risks to themselves and, in some cases, to their passengers. While at the controls of 3,000-pound vehicles they seem encased in cocoons of denial, and act as if they believe—contrary to logic and scientific evidence—that accidents cannot happen to them.


Local broadcaster Jim Williams knows about lethal results when cell phones mix with driving: He lost an uncle in just such an accident four years ago. As a result, he said, whenever he sees this behavior he wants to use a baseball bat on the phone.

Researchers report that among the psycho-physiological effects of talking on a cell while driving are reduced attention to road conditions and fellow drivers; slower reaction time (about equivalent to having .08 percent of blood alcohol, according to some studies); and unnoticed visual information, like cars changing lanes in front of you. In comparison to others, drivers on cell phones tend to run more red lights and break more traffic laws.

These vehicles should carry signs that boldly warn “Distracted Driver on Board.” Perhaps a sensor that detects a wireless signal from the driver’s seat of a moving vehicle could trigger it.

Fanciful as this suggestion may be, such a sign could not only warn other drivers of danger, it would also alert law officers to the scofflaw. California is one of 34 states to make talking or texting with a hand-held device illegal while driving a vehicle.

On the books since mid 2008, the cell and text ban was underscored during a statewide enforcement campaign last April. Called “Not Worth the Risk,” this month-long effort by local and state law officers resulted in more than 52,600 citations issued.

Over the past 36 months the law produced nearly 5,000 citations from southern Santa Barbara County alone, according to Deputy Sheriff Kevin Huddle. The Goleta Traffic Division’s four officers, whom he supervised, generated about two-thirds of this total.

“With 13 years in law enforcement, it’s amazing to me to see the level of noncompliance with the cell phone law,” said Huddle. Recently he was called to a four-vehicle crash on Hollister Avenue that sent people to the hospital and totaled three cars. The cause? A pickup driver’s cell received a text message and he glanced down at the wrong moment.

Clearly, my fantasy technical fix would not solve all the problems posed by distracted driving. What about the people who eat or drink while driving alone? Or shave or apply makeup while behind the wheel, or read? Others may try to discipline boisterous offspring; and still others just love to talk to passengers. But cell phone use is still the main cause of distracted driving.

Some psychologists have speculated that the longer reaction times and impaired attention that mark the driver on a cell phone could also harm important communications with romantic partners and family members. In this sense, driving while talking on a cell can be hazardous to key relationships.

As cell phone ownership has risen—industry sources report Americans owned nearly 300 million of the devices as of June 2010—text messaging has virtually exploded. Users sent 1.8 trillion text-only messages last year, a third more than the previous year.

It is unclear how many of those messages were from moving vehicles, but a nationally representative poll of 2,000 drivers in 2010 found that 24 percent said they texted or emailed while driving. The same AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey added that two-thirds also admitted to driving and talking on their cells.

It is only getting harder to get drivers to think about and regulate their use of an increasing range of distracting wireless devices, many of which are for entertainment. New automobiles have dash panels that look like they belong on the USS Enterprise and sport utility vehicle (SUV) interiors come festooned with video screens.

The convergence of distracted driving carnage and spreading wireless infotainment has come to a point where the federal government feels compelled to push back. Recently National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Strickland told a Detroit conference of automakers, wireless providers, and software developers they needed to reverse direction on the number of distractions inside vehicles. “A car is not a mobile (communication) device,” said Strickland. He promised new regulations for the new technologies, and soon.

State laws may also need stiffer penalties. Currently, violating California’s ban on cell phones and texting brings low fines and does not increase driving insurance premiums. If scofflaw drivers think safe behavior is someone else’s duty, perhaps society should send them a stronger message, with regular reminders, that we’re all in this together.

Driving While Distracted: Statistics To Know

A new "On Your Side®" survey by Nationwide shows there are varying degrees of support for different types of restrictions based on these texting while driving statistics.

8 in 10 drivers support some type of cell phone usage restriction.
The majority of respondents say they are supportive of laws restricting any type of cell phone use while driving.
80 percent respondents support a ban on text messaging while driving.
80 percent of respondents support a ban on e-mailing while driving.
Two thirds (67 percent) of respondents say they are supportive of laws restricting phone calls while driving.
Of those who supported enacting some type of cell phone usage restriction, nearly 3 in 4 believed the law should apply to all drivers, not just specific groups.

Other cell phone driving statistics

Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver's reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
The No.1 source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device. (Virginia Tech/NHTSA)
Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
10 percent of drivers aged 16 to 24 years old are on their phone at any one time.
Driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of police reported crashes.
Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent (Carnegie Mellon)

What Is Distracted Driving?
There are three main types of distraction:

Visual — taking your eyes off the road
Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.

While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction.
Other distracting activities include:

Using a cell phone
Eating and drinking
Talking to passengers
Reading, including maps
Using a PDA or navigation system
Watching a video
Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player.

Did You Know?
Research on distracted driving reveals some surprising facts:

20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA).
Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashed, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). (NHTSA)
In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. (FARS and GES)
The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (NHTSA)
Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)

Examination of Driver Distraction
Driver Distraction Facts and Figures

Important information regarding driver distraction comes from records of traffic fatalities and injuries collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


Driver distraction could present a serious and potentially deadly danger. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. Distracted driving comes in various forms, such as cell phone use, texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, as well as using in-vehicle technologies and portable electronic devices.

There are other less obvious forms of distractions including daydreaming or dealing with strong emotions.

While these numbers are significant, they may not state the true size of the problem, since the identification of distraction and its role in a crash can be very difficult to determine using only police-reported data. New data sources are available to provide more details on the type and presence of driver distraction.

Police-reported data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National Automotive Sampling show that:

In 2009, there were 30,797 fatal crashes in the United States, which involved 45,230 drivers. In those crashes 33,808 people died.
In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction (16% of total fatalities).
The proportion of fatalities reportedly associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2009. During that time, fatal crashes with reported driver distraction also increased from 10 percent to 16 percent.
The portion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of the fatal crashes increased from 7 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2009.
The under-20 age group had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes (16%). The age group with the next greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the 20- to-29-year-old age group – 13 percent of all 20-to-29-year-old drivers in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted.
Of those drivers reportedly distracted during a fatal crash, the 30-to-39-year-old drivers were the group with the greatest proportion distracted by cell phones. Cell phone distraction was reported for 24 percent of the 30-to-39-year-old distracted drivers in fatal crashes.
Light-truck drivers and motorcyclists had the greatest percentage of total drivers reported as distracted at the time of the fatal crash (12% each). Bus drivers had the lowest percentage (6%) of total drivers involved in fatal crashes that were reported as distraction-related.
An estimated 20 percent of 1,517,000 injury crashes were reported to have involved distracted driving in 2009.

The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS) is a nationally representative survey specifically focused toward documenting events and conditions leading up to crashes.

NMVCCS captures distraction as an associated factor to the crash and/or as the critical reason that made the crash imminent. Driver distraction was coded as the critical reason in 18 percent of the crashes. Data describing the specifics of the distraction — for example adjusting the radio or eating — are included in this data set.

Another method for collecting pre-crash data is through naturalistic driving studies, in which vehicles are equipped with cameras and data recording equipment.

During NHTSA’s 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, driver involvement in secondary tasks contributed to more than 22 percent of all crashes and near-crashes recorded during the study period.

Data Sources
The following NHTSA data sources were used in the research:

Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES)
National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS)
The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study
National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) of Driver Electronic Use
Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey (MVOSS)

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Use of Electronic Devices While Driving

A 2009 survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals an increase in the use of electronic devices while driving and some regional differences in this practice.

The percentage of young drivers manipulating a hand-held electronic device while driving has decreased from 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2009 nationwide survey, which provides the only nationwide probability-based observed data on driver electronic device use in the United States. The survey shows that the hand-held cell phone use rate in 2009 translates into 672,000 vehicles being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone at any given moment during daylight hours. It also translates into an estimated 9 percent of all vehicles that had drivers who were using some type of phone (hand-held or hands-free).

Nationwide, those drivers observed visibly manipulating hand-held electronic devices dropped significantly from 1.0 percent to 0.6 percent.
Some 1.1 percent of drivers 16 to 24 years old were observed visibly manipulating hand-held electronic devices, down from 1.7 percent the previous year
More drivers in Southern States were observed manipulating hand-held electronic devices (1.0%) than in the other regions of the country (from 0.2% in the Midwest to 0.5% in the West).
The use of hand-held devices decreased the most in the West, from 2.1 percent in 2008 to 0.5 percent in 2009.
The percentage of drivers visibly manipulating hand-held devices while driving was higher among females (0.7%) than among males (0.5%).


The results above are from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which provides the only nationwide probability-based observed data on driver electronic device use in the United States. The NOPUS is conducted annually by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The survey observes usage as it actually occurs at randomly selected roadway sites. The survey data is collected by trained observers at probabilistically sampled intersections controlled by stop signs or stoplights, where vehicle occupants are observed from the roadside. Data is collected between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Only stopped vehicles are observed to allow time to collect a variety of information required by the survey, including subjective assessments of occupants’ age and race. Observers collect data on the driver, right-front passenger, and up to two passengers in the second row of seats. Observers do not interview occupants, so that the NOPUS can capture the untainted behavior of occupants. The 2009 NOPUS data was collected between June 1 and June 22, 2009, while the 2008 data was collected between June 2 and June 22, 2008.

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