Think You Can Drive Distracted? Think Again

25 percent of people believe they can multitask when driving — safely.

Posted Apr 03, 2018

Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Many drivers in certain situations — stuck in traffic, or navigating a straight stretch of road, or stopped at a red light — feel they have the green light to read a text message or answer a phone call, and that it can be done safely. Accident numbers may suggest otherwise. If distracted driving is considered dangerous behavior, why are so many drivers choosing to ignore the risks?

The Perception and Reality

According to data from Travelers, 25 percent of people indicate they multitask when driving because they think they can do so safely. To put that into perspective, data from TrueMotion’s smartphone telematics apps that monitor actual driving behaviors show that Americans drive at least 3.3 miles distracted every day. Numbers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety also indicate we live in a culture of distracted driving. The organization’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise.

“There’s clearly a disconnect between drivers’ ideas of what is safe and the reality of what is happening on our roads,” said Joan Woodward, Executive Vice President, Public Policy, and President of the Travelers Institute. “Lives are being lost to distracted driving-related accidents. We want to help change perceptions about this problem so people start taking it seriously.”

Why People Drive Distracted

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Travelers recently released survey results from its annual Risk Index related to the issue. The survey found that 61 percent of those who respond to personal texts, emails and calls while driving do so because they fear it could be an emergency.

And while 85 percent of Risk Index respondents said they know it’s extremely risky to use mobile phones while driving, TrueMotion data found that this does not change their behavior; 40 percent of drivers are distracted for an average of 15 minutes per hour driven.

Can Technology Save Us?

While technology is available to help curb distracted driving, the majority of drivers are not using it. Only 12 percent of respondents in the Travelers Risk Index say they use cellphone safety features like “do not disturb while driving” or “auto-reply” functions.

“The Travelers Risk Index highlights that drivers are categorizing distraction as ‘someone else’s problem’ when they are the ones who are actually engaging in highly risky behavior,” said TrueMotion CEO Ted Gramer.

The Risks Are Real

Victims of distracted driving, such as Robye Nothnagel, who was hit while crossing the street and severely injured by a distracted driver, and their families such Joel Feldman, who lost his daughter to a distracted driver, know the risks all too well.

Be an educated driver and remember that you’re not invincible, and accidents which impact people’s lives forever can occur in a split second.