For officials in charge of monitoring and improving traffic safety across the country, including in Florida, distracted driving has become one of the most alarming causes of car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, nearly 21,670 occupants of passenger vehicles died and some 2.09 million were injured in traffic crashes. Other statistics show that 3,328 died in distracted driving crashes across the country that same year. Despite these statistics, many people are comfortable texting or performing other activities that take their attention off the road.
Crashes involving distracted driving have a variety of causes. NHTSA research has identified a variety of activities that can cause accidents, such as using cellphones and smartphones, putting on makeup, reading, eating and even interacting with other passengers.
NHTSA has distinguished three categories of distraction: visual, manual and cognitive. A driver who is cognitively distracted is usually thinking about something other than driving. In a manual distraction, a motorist takes their hands off the steering wheel. A visual distraction is any activity that forces a driver to look away from the road. All of these distractions impair concentration and, thus, profoundly decrease the driver's ability to recognize and react to any change in traffic circumstances.
Technology has been playing a larger, more primary role in many car crashes. With more than 320 million cellphones in use in the United States, an increasing number of services are being marketed to help people stay connected with their families, friends and coworkers, making texting while driving a serious problem. Fortunately, some technology developers have recognized the problem and may soon be offering a variety of solutions that will help keep drivers and their passengers safe.
Source: NHTSA.gov, "Understanding the Effects of Distracted Driving and Developing Strategies to Reduce Resulting Deaths and Injuries," Accessed on Dec. 11, 2014