You might think distracted driving tips are just for teenagers. They’re not. While teens and young adults are the most at risk for fatal crashes involving distracted driving, adults drive distracted, too.
Every day, about nine people are killed and more than 1,000 per day are injured in crashes involving distracted drivers — of all ages. What’s more, we can all probably think of an instance when we were a distracted driver. And, we’ve all seen others swerving from their lanes, running stop signals and doing other dangerous activities as a result of driving distracted.
Distracted driving means you are doing something that takes your attention away from driving. These distractions can involve your eyes, your hands or your thinking processes. Texting is the most hazardous, because it involves all of these types of distractions:
- Visual: You take your eyes off the road.
- Manual: You take your hands off the steering wheel.
- Cognitive: Your mind is not on driving.
In fact, many states now ban texting while driving – including Wisconsin, which reports three distracted driving-related crashes every hour. In Wisconsin, texting while driving is illegal.
If you willfully engage in driving behaviors that you know can put others at risk, you are driving recklessly. Types of reckless driving include speeding; weaving in and out of traffic; tailgating; racing; ignoring stop signs and traffic signals; and driving impaired.
Reckless driving endangers commuters, pedestrians and residents daily. Aside from the financial and legal consequences — in Wisconsin, penalties for reckless driving range from fines of up to $10,000 to several years of jail time — it can result in life-altering traumatic injuries. If you are involved in a crash caused by reckless driving, you could experience:
- Head and brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Loss of vision
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Injuries that require limb amputation
In some cases, these injuries can be life-threatening. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding was the leading driving behavior connected with fatal crashes in 2019.
You can help prevent reckless driving crashes by obeying the rules of the road, being aware of your surroundings and keeping your road rage in check. If you witness an episode of reckless driving, please call your local police department to report it, and be ready to provide the location as accurately as possible.
Reckless and distracted driving can happen regardless of the mode of transportation. If you ride a motorcycle, learn more about motorcycle safety essentials.
Dangerous Driving Statistics
These 10 statistics may help you think twice before texting, reaching for a sandwich, multi-tasking or engaging in other distractions while driving.
- Of people who drive to or for work, 43% answer or make work-related communications while driving, including texting, emailing and calling. The reasons given were: 38% felt they needed to always be available; 37% feared missing out on something important at work, and 17% did not want to upset the boss. (enddd.org, Travelers Insurance Company poll)
- Even when talking hands-free, drivers can miss seeing up to 50% of what’s around them because they are engaged in a cell phone conversation. (nsc.org)
- Eighty-eight percent of young millennials engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days. These behaviors included running red lights, speeding and texting while driving. (enddd.org, aaafoundation.org)
- When driving 55 mph, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for around five seconds. In five seconds, you can drive the length of a football field. (cdc.gov)
- About 20% of drivers admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in the past year. You are three times more likely to be in a car crash if you are driving fatigued. (nsc.org; National Sleep Foundation)
- Most drivers (94%) perceive driving after drinking as very or extremely dangerous. However, almost 10% admit to having done so in the past 30 days. (aaafoundation.org)
- Distracted driving was involved in 9% of fatal crashes in the last seven years. (nhtsa.gov)
- Forty-two percent of drivers admit to reading a text or email while driving. (ghsa.org)
- Drivers who eat or drink while on the road are 80 percent more likely to get involved in a crash. (nhtsa.gov)
- Although many people confess to participating in distracted driving, 95.9% of drivers believe reading and 96.7% believe typing a text is very or extremely dangerous while driving a vehicle. (aaafoundation.org)