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The deadliness of distracted driving

| Aug 24, 2017 | fatal motor vehicle accidents

Far too many Illinois residents have been in a car or truck accident or know someone who has. With the advent of cellphone technology, an alarming number of motor vehicle crashes today are caused by distracted drivers talking or texting on their cellphones.

Cellphone usage while driving is a huge part of the distracted driving problem. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, approximately 660,000 drivers used cellphones while driving during daylight hours in 2015. Teenagers made up the largest age group of drivers who were distracted at the time of a fatal crash.

Distracted driving statistics

Anything that takes the attention of a driver away from the job of driving is defined as distracted driving. There are, of course, distracted driving behaviors other than cellphone use, including the following:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking or arguing with other people in the vehicle, especially those in the back seat
  • Applying makeup
  • Switching radio stations or changing CDs

In a separate report, the NHTSA reports that in 2015, 3,477 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers. Of these, 272 were teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19, accounting for 8 percent of the people who died. Additional alarming 2015 teen statistics include the following:

  • Teen motor vehicle crash fatalities involving distracted driving – 11 percent
  • Teen distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes – 9 percent
  • Teen fatalities of teen-caused distracted driving crashes – 60 percent

What to do

The NHTSA is in an all-out campaign to stop distracted driving. In partnership with states and local law enforcement, April has been declared Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This is when one sees a major national advertising campaign against distracted driving and the law enforcement crackdown entitled U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

Educators, employers, parents and teens themselves are encouraged to get involved and speak up. Students Against Destructive Decisions chapters have been established in many localities and there is an anti-distracted driving pledge for students to sign. The NHTSA reminds parents that they need to talk with their teens about distracted driving and must lead by example, never themselves engaging in distracted driving of any type.