Although drunk driving is seen as one of the worst things you can do in a car out on the open road, the fact is that it’s not always the most dangerous. Distracted driving has been found to be just as dangerous, if not more so, than the act of driving while intoxicated. You might not even realize when you’re driving while distracted, which makes it more difficult to avoid. In today’s post, we’ll discuss three surprising truths about distracted driving in the hopes that you’ll do everything you can to avoid these behaviors yourself.
Distracted driving is downplayed — and it’s getting worse.
There are a great many drivers who get behind the wheel while they’re intoxicated. That fact alone is enough to scare you right off the road. But even more startling is the fact that distracted driving is probably more common and is totally underplayed. Most of us know the risk we take if we drive drunk, but the majority of drivers actually believe that they can engage in distracted driving behaviors safely.
A survey conducted in Washington state found that 70% of drivers felt motorists who texted or emailed while driving were a serious threat to their safety, but 75% of drivers surveyed felt it was unlikely that they’d crash their cars due to texting and driving. Something doesn’t quite add up there. New data also shows that the problem is becoming more pronounced: Cambridge Mobile Telematics found that distracted driving occurred in just over 36% of trips taken within a six-month period, which represents an increase of 5% from the previous year.
The takeaways? Distracted driving behaviors are becoming more prevalent, yet drivers are somehow less likely to believe they’re putting anyone’s safety at risk by engaging in these behaviors. In other words, roads are becoming less safe and we aren’t seeing how our actions are making the problem worse.
Distracted drivers aren’t always those you’d blame first.
Inexperienced drivers are certainly the most likely to underestimate road dangers. That includes the dangers presented by distracted driving or even drunk driving. Minors under the age of 21 are more likely to be involved in crashes in general, so it’s not surprising they’re likely to partake in reckless behavior behind the wheel. But teenagers aren’t always the most likely culprits.
A recent study conducted by AT and T found that adults are actually more likely than teens to engage in texting while driving. The study revealed that while 43% of teens admitted to texting while driving, 49% of adults did, too. Even more surprising is the fact that 60% of adults said they didn’t engage in texting while driving three years prior, which suggests that it’s not just teens who are addicted to their phone use. A separate study published by the Society for Risk Analysis found that female drivers are also more likely to drive distracted.
That said, any motorist can engage in distracted driving behaviors. Regardless of age, gender, or experience behind the wheel, you can be forever affected by these choices.
It’s not all about the phone.
Around 660,000 drivers use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving at any given moment. But distracted driving isn’t all about phone use. Eating or drinking non-alcoholic beverages while driving can be just as dangerous as texting or emailing. There may be no law that specifically prohibits you gobbling down your breakfast in morning traffic, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Exxon-Mobile actually found that 70% of drivers eatwhile driving and 80% drink non-alcoholic beverages while driving. Even having a conversation or adjusting the radio station counts as distracted driving — and anything that takes you away from operating your vehicle can be a huge hazard.
The dangers of drunk driving cannot be understated, but they aren’t the only problem. While DUII allegations are certainly no laughing matter, every motorist needs to take steps to prevent distracted driving behaviors as well. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a dire situation that requires assistance from reputable attorneys. If you or someone you love is facing charges of distracted driving or drunk driving, please call our law firm today.