Distracted Driving is a Dangerous Epidemic – Just Ask the CDC

When we think of the CDC (The Center For Disease Control and Prevention) we typically associate the organization with health and disease issues and epidemics.  So I was a little surprised to learn that the CDC has a section devoted to motor vehicle safety and recently conducted a distracted driving study.  http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/

A CDC study analyzed 2011 data on distracted driving, including talking on a cell phone or reading or sending texts or emails behind the wheel. The researchers compared the prevalence of talking on a cell phone or texting or emailing while driving in the United States. 69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving.  31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving.

The CDC distracted driving study purports that younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20 may be at increased risk; they have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.  Furthermore, texting while driving is linked with drinking and driving or riding with someone who has been drinking among high school students. Nearly half of all U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older text or email while driving.  Students who text while driving are nearly twice as likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking and five times as likely to drink and drive than students who don’t text while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that everyday more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. http://www.nhtsa.gov/  http://www.distraction.gov/  Last year, over 3,000 were killed in distracted driving crashes in the United States.  Using a cell phone, texting,  initiating your GPS or other type of navigation system and even eating while driving are activities that cause a driver to be distracted.   All of these distractions are dangerous, but texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and taking your mind off of your driving.  Texting while driving also tends to cause a longer period of distraction.