25% of car accidents caused by distractions such as cell phones

By on July 11, 2011, 12:00 PM

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has released the first comprehensive overview summarizing distracted driving research for state officials. The 50-page report, titled "Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do" (PDF), looks at research from more than 350 scientific papers published between 2000 and 2011.

The report summarizes what distracted driving is, how often drivers are distracted, how distraction impacts driver performance and crash risk, what countermeasures may be most effective, and what states can do to reduce distracted driving. Here is a quick summary:

  • Distractions affect driving performance.
  • Drivers frequently are distracted, perhaps as much as half the time.
  • Drivers adapt to some extent: they pay more attention to driving and reduce their distracting activities in more risky driving situations.
  • Distractions are estimated to be associated with 15 to 25 percent of crashes at all levels from minor property damage to fatal injury.
  • Cell phone use increases crash risk.
  • Texting likely increases crash risk more than cell phone use.

Based on the existing research, the report urges states to implement the following countermeasures:

  • Continue to leverage effective, low-cost roadway countermeasures such as edgeline and centerline rumble strips, which alert motorists when they are drifting out of their driving lane.
  • Record distracted driving in crash reports to the extent possible, to assist in evaluating distracted driving laws and programs.
  • Monitor the impact of existing hand-held cell phone bans prior to enacting new laws. States that have not already passed handheld bans should wait until more definitive research and data are available on these laws’ effectiveness.
  • Evaluate other distracted driving laws and programs. Evaluation will provide the information states need on which countermeasures are effective and which are not.
  • Enact a texting ban for all drivers and a complete cell phone ban (both hands-free and hand-held) for novice drivers.
  • Enforce all existing cell phone and texting laws.
  • Implement distracted driving communication programs.
  • Help employers develop and implement distracted driving policies and programs.

Interestingly, the report also concludes that high visibility texting and hand-held cell phone enforcement projects are proving to be effective in helping to change motorist behavior. In fact, preliminary results show cell phone crackdowns have prompted dramatic declines in hand-held cell phone use and texting behind the wheel.

"Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know," GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha, who oversaw the report's development, said in a statement. "Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it. While distracted driving is an emotional issue that raises the ire of many on the road, states must take a research-based approach to addressing the problem. Until more research is conducted, states need to proceed thoughtfully, methodically and objectively."




User Comments: 24

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UnknownSky said:

Did anyone else just lols at this? :]

Guest said:

breaking news...bears do poop in the woods and the Pope is indeed, Catholic

Guest said:

its true, i hate them. put your phone on silent.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

So you could say "75% of car accidents NOT caused by distractions such as moblie phones".

That would be a '-1' for the law in my country. Some people are more than capable of operating a phone while driving and then not go on to kill someone's dog or squash their bin.

Kralnor said:

Benny26 said:

So you could say "75% of car accidents NOT caused by distractions such as moblie phones".

That would be a '-1' for the law in my country. Some people are more than capable of operating a phone while driving and then not go on to kill someone's dog or squash their bin.

Just like some people are able to drive while intoxicated?

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You guys laugh, but in ten years of working in auto insurance, I had exactly one person admit to using a cell phone at the time of the accident, and that was only to explain that she crashed the car due to texting, not to drinking (she was popped for a DUI). I also have yet to read a police report which lists use of a cell phone as a contributing factor in a car accident.

I can hone in on texters very easily. Just look for a car going a bit slower than average, with the eyes of the person darting up and down into their lap. I usually just speed up to get away from them, but if I was a less scrupulous person I would slam on my brakes and get paid. I could probably do this every other day really.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

If drivers werent distracted by one thing, then it will just be another...

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Just like some people are able to drive while intoxicated?

Now it's a different ball game though. You're getting into mental and physical tolerance when you talk about alcohol or drugs.

I agree with the part of the law against texting though. I've been in a car with a mate of mine texting before...I don't think i stopped wincing all the way through the journey.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

trillionsin said:

If drivers werent distracted by one thing, then it will just be another...

Ive been doing the texting and driving bit for a while now... I wanted to add to my last reply. The only fender bender I got in from being distracted was some really hot girl on the side of the road, big tits, just great form.. blahblahblah... I wrecked into someone else slamming on their breaks for being almost as distracted as I was. Of course I was at fault and I still continue to look at girls on the side of the road... them girls jogging with spandex is my greatest weakness.

yRaz yRaz said:

Benny26 said:

Just like some people are able to drive while intoxicated?

Now it's a different ball game though. You're getting into mental and physical tolerance when you talk about alcohol or drugs.

are you trying to justify driving while intoxicated? I don't care about your mental or physical tolerance, intoxicated is intoxicated. I hope you get a DUI. Doesn't even have to be alcohol. It could be weed, pills, ect. I've been in too many near car accidents because someone wanted to smoke a joint or have a few beers before they got in the car. Way more than texting, actually. A car turns into a 2000lbs weapon in the hands of someone who can't control it.

bakape said:

Cars have long since rendered WMDs obsolete. Now we can add cell phones to the list.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

are you trying to justify driving while intoxicated? I don't care about your mental or physical tolerance, intoxicated is intoxicated. I hope you get a DUI. Doesn't even have to be alcohol. It could be weed, pills, ect. I've been in too many near car accidents because someone wanted to smoke a joint or have a few beers before they got in the car. Way more than texting, actually. A car turns into a 2000lbs weapon in the hands of someone who can't control it.

Whoooa...I never said i agree with people who drink and drive.

First i said:

Some people are more than capable of operating a phone (talking) while driving and then not go on to kill someone's dog or squash their bin.

Then Kralnor said:

Just like some people are able to drive while intoxicated?

And, although he is right that some people may well be able to drive home over the limit, I disagree that it should be allowed under law...because "Alcohol is a different ball game, It's about mental and physical tolerance".

See?...It was there in the writing, friend

yRaz yRaz said:

Benny26 said:

See?...It was there in the writing, friend

I'm a bit sensitive about the issue since I was almost in an accident a few nights ago with those "circumstances."

aj_the_kidd said:

"Distractions affect driving performance" and "Texting likely increases crash risk more than cell phone use."

Well hot damn, you really do learn something everyday. I often wonder why companies create studies for the obvious

mailpup mailpup said:

I often wonder why companies create studies for the obvious
Probably because unless there is some kind of documentation or study a lot of people won't believe it.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Probably because unless there is some kind of documentation or study a lot of people won't believe it.
Somehow, it still doesn't justify paying people to state the blatantly obvious. Then too, most people think they know more than the study.

Myself, I hope LSD makes a comeback. At least with that, you stopped a half block before the red light, instead of parading right through it.

Well, either that or amphetamines. After all, they give those to fighter pilots to keep them sharp.

Butch said:

I agree that laws should be be much tougher for people who use cell phones in the car... for everyone except me that is...

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I agree that laws should be be much tougher for people who use cell phones in the car... for everyone except me that is...
Well Butch, what makes you special? (Don't answer, that was a rhetorical question).

breaking news...bears do poop in the woods and the Pope is indeed, Catholic
OK, I agree with you about bears. But, are you absolutely certain that the pope is Catholic? He could have very well been saying that to get himself elected. This is true of all political endeavors.

Butch said:

captaincranky said:

I agree that laws should be be much tougher for people who use cell phones in the car... for everyone except me that is...
Well Butch, what makes you special? (Don't answer, that was a rhetorical question).

I know your question was rhetorical but... I am special, that's what my mom always told me...yours too ;0

veLa veLa said:

captaincranky said:

Probably because unless there is some kind of documentation or study a lot of people won't believe it.
Somehow, it still doesn't justify paying people to state the blatantly obvious. Then too, most people think they know more than the study.

Myself, I hope LSD makes a comeback. At least with that, you stopped a half block before the red light, instead of parading right through it.

Well, either that or amphetamines. After all, they give those to fighter pilots to keep them sharp.

Ecstasy is growing, which is technically an amphetamine

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Ecstasy is growing, which is technically an amphetamine

Presantamos......"E".....MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)....!

Indeed it is, you're the first person that I've encountered that has acquiesced to that. Most are in denial. "Just because it says it's meth in the name, that doesn't make me a speed freak". Oh really.... And another, "please spare me the rest of this drivel", registers in my tired, jaded, old mind.

Tanstar said:

"Tee study found that the other 75% of accidents were broken up evenly between the elderly, teenagers, and stupid people."

example1013 said:

72% of Americans think they're above average drivers.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

72% of Americans think they're above average drivers.
For years and years, I asked everybody I spoke with about car accidents, "whose fault was it"? Nobody ever said it was theirs, it was always the other guy. I suppose with those stats, you could say that 100% of Americans, are blameless in the nations highway carnage. That way that went, it was very easy to conclude that the "average car driver" who was involved in an accident, was "lying ".

Unfortunately, I was involved in a total wreck of my brand new Blazer, and it wasn't my fault! There I was, serially victimized, by another driver, and my own axiom!

(It really wasn't my fault, honest. Some imbecile in the throes of an epileptic seizure crossed over the center line and hit me head on doing about 50, while I was driving in the correct lane. I tried to avoid him, but a guardrail on the right prevented it).

So let's see, what have we learned? Epileptic seizures are more distracting than cell phones while driving. But, more studies need to be done to determine the exact severity of the differential. Then too, there's the complication that very few people are epileptics, while nearly everybody, (except me), has a cell phone.

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