The troubling upward trend of distracted drivers

Despite growing awareness of distracted driving and laws trying to prohibit it, distracted driving continues its growth to alarming numbers. While various studies have their own statistics, the average distracted driver is 50 percent more likely to cause a serious accident.

The culprits are those using cell phones to text while driving with distractions from onboard computer systems a close second. The use of technology while traveling down the road has seemingly been normalized. Far too many drivers see it as a hard if not impossible, habit to break.

Formalizing driving distractions

Distraction became a term and category used in law enforcement accident reporting two years ago. In 2021, nearly 8,300 people suffered injuries in accidents due to their lack of attention, while 117 lost their lives. Official data collection did not account for the “distracted” phase, meaning that the number of fatalities is likely higher than what has been reported.

Growing technology in the form of onscreen computer displays installed by motor vehicle manufacturers has grown from one-third to half of all cars on the road. Half of the respondents confessed to being distracted by the screens, which increased collision risks by 44 percent. The act of changing a radio station alone sees risks skyrocket to nearly 90 percent.

The demo most at risk

Not surprisingly, 18- to 24-year-olds are considered one of the most dangerous demographics when it comes to of distracted driving. A study commissioned by Allianz reveals that looking at smartphones to read or send a text grew from 15 to 24 percent between 2016 and 2020. Nearly one-third of these young drivers confess to smartphone use while operating a motor vehicle. Four out of ten admit to sending or reading texts.

Distracted driving remains a clear and present danger to every driver traveling from work to home or enjoying a leisurely vacation. One split second can change, if not end lives.

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