Most studies like to point toward how perception doesn’t match the facts. Distracted driving is a rare issue where everyone knows it’s a problem but it continues to grow anyway. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were 3,477 distracted driving deaths in the US in 2015 (the most recent year with statistics available) and close to 400,000 more people injured in related crashes.
The problem is real, and drivers see it every time we travel to school and work. According to a new study by Progressive Insurance to see how drivers behave, a significant majority of Americans agree that distracted driving is a problem, yet many drivers admit to the behavior themselves.
A closer look at the numbers
The Progressive study broke down results by age groups and gender.
- 65 percent believe that distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic accidents
- 83 percent believe police should be able to pull a driver over for texting
- 34 percent are “somewhat” or “very” confident in their ability to text and drive
The data shows recognition of the problem but a disconnect between widespread behavior and individual action. Younger drivers show an overwhelmingly higher level of their own confidence in driving while texting, at a margin of 62 percent among 18-34 year-olds versus just 6 percent of drivers 55 and older.
Eyes on the road, not on the screen
Whether checking a quick text message about dinner, looking at a map for directions, or selecting the next song for the playlist, distracted driving causes preventable accidents. When a driver isn’t paying attention, it endangers lives. The National Safety Council adds that accident reports often fail to mention distraction as a cause, meaning the numbers are likely higher even higher.
Tuning out the road for a few seconds has serious costs. When inattentive behavior causes injury or the loss of a loved one, the driver is liable for their actions. Whether an accident is caused by use of a cell phone, another handheld device, or when a driver is distracted by something else, it’s essential that drivers keep their minds focused on the road as they travel. Driving is an everyday activity for most, and there is danger in routine. As the numbers show, it takes active focus to overcome urges and keep the emphasis on safety first.