Distracted Drivers

By Riverside Sheriff’s Department

Using an electronic device while driving is a serious safety problem. Most drivers know that texting while driving is a dangerous behavior, but many still use their cell phones and other mobile devices when they are behind the wheel, putting themselves and others at risk. Many drivers see distracted driving as risky when other drivers do it, but do not recognize how their own driving deteriorates.

In 2012, 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 were injured nationwide in crashes involving a distracted driver. That same year, eleven percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

While anything that takes your eyes off the road (i.e. hands off the wheel) or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, there is heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive.  In addition, most drivers aren’t aware that just talking on a cell phone, hand held or hands free, can lead to “inattention blindness” as critical brain functions needed for driving are used for cell phone talking.

At any given daylight moment across America, there are about 660,000 drivers using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.  The Jurupa Valley Police Department is focusing on ways to change the behavior of drivers through enforcement, public awareness and education – the same activities that have curbed drunk driving and increased seat belt use.

In a national survey, almost half (48%) of drivers say they answer their cell phones while driving at least some of  the time, and more than half of those (58%) continue to drive after answering the call. Your Police Department recommends the following safety measures:

You can:

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive
  • Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task

Parents can:

  • Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving
  • If you know your teen is on the road – don’t call or text them until you know they have reached their destination

Employers can:

  • Adopt, publicize, and enforce company policies that prohibit employees from texting or talking on hand-held cell phones while in a company vehicle, or in a personal vehicle while using a company issued cell phone.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.   For more information about distracted driving, please visit www.distraction.gov .

 

Distracted Driving Fact Sheet / Talking Points

Using electronic devices while driving is a serious safety problem

  • Most drivers know that texting while driving is a dangerous behavior, but many still use their cell phones and other mobile devices when they are behind the wheel, putting themselves and others at risk. Many drivers see distracted driving as risky when other drivers do it, but do not recognize how their own driving deteriorates.
  • Almost half (48.6%) of drivers say they answer incoming phone calls, and 1 of 4 drivers (23.9%) are willing to place calls on all, most, or some trips. About half (48.5%) said they never place calls while driving.
  • Considering there are more than 210 million licensed drivers in America, slightly more than 102 million drivers were answering calls and 50 million drivers were placing calls while driving in 2012.
  • At any given daylight moment across America, there are about 660,000 drivers using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.
  • Distracted Driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.

What Data Tells Us

  • At this very moment, there are some 660,000 drivers talking on hand-held cell phones – 5% of all American drivers at any given typical daylight moment. www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811718.pdf 
  • Almost double that number – 1.18 million drivers (9%) – were using some type of mobile device (either hand-held or hands free) at a typical daylight moment.
  • Use of an electronic device while driving can distract drivers from appropriately thinking about the driving task, watching the road and surrounding environment, and keeping their hands on the steering wheel. Texting while driving, a common activity in today’s world, involves all three types of distraction – visual, manual, and cognitive. (www.Distraction.gov )
  • Accurate reporting of distracted driving in fatal crashes poses a challenge for police officers who prepare crash reports after the incident. The highway safety community is working to create uniform reporting guidelines for distracted driving and to train officers to use them. In 2011, 7% of the drivers in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes, and of these, 12% were using cell phones. More than half the drivers in fatal crashes using cell phones were 5 to 29 years old. Almost 1 in 6 (17%) injury crashes involved distraction, resulting in 387,000 injured people in 2011. Cell phone use was reported in an estimated 21,000 distraction-affected crashes (www. Distraction.gov).

What People Tell Us

  • Almost half (48%) of drivers say they answer their cell phones while driving at least some of  the time, and more than half of those (58%) continue to drive after answering the call. This has not changed in the past two years. (www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/traffic_tech/tt407.pdf )
  • Fewer drivers (14%) say they send text messages or e-mails, but about one-third of those (35%) continue to drive when sending text messages.
  • Drivers of all ages use their phones while they are driving at least sometimes. More drivers recognize the risk and say they do not make or place calls or messages while driving than in 2010.
  • Most drivers support bans on hand-held cell phone use (74%) and texting while driving (94%), and they approve fines of $200 or higher for talking on cell phones or texting while driving.

Crashes

  • Some 6% of drivers say they were involved in a crash and 7% were in a near-crash situation in the past year. Of those, 2% say they were using cell phones at the time, and 3% were sending or reading text messages.

Communities can

  • Enforce strong laws banning texting and handheld cell phone use to let drivers know distracted driving is a serious safety matter.
  • Conduct high-visibility enforcement campaigns of existing texting and cell phone laws
  • Publicize the results of enforcement campaigns
  • Work with partners such as advocacy groups, youth groups, schools, traffic safety agencies, law enforcement agencies, and public health agencies to continue the discussion on the dangers of distracted driving.
  • Go to www.distraction.gov  for comprehensive information about distracted driving and see Blueprint to End Distracted Driving.

Employers can

  • Adopt, publicize, and enforce company policies that prohibit employees from texting or talking on hand-held cell phones while in a company vehicle, or in a personal vehicle while using a company issued cell phone.

You can

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
  • Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers.

Parents can

  • Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
  • Make sure your community and State laws include electronic device bans in graduated driver licensing laws for young novice drivers, and make them part of your teen’s driving responsibilities.

While driving:

  • 1 in 2 drivers answer calls
  • 1 in 4 drivers place calls
  • 3 in 5 young drivers answer calls
  • 1 in 3 young drivers place calls
  • 2 in 5 young drivers were observed manipulating a hand-held device.