Types of Distraction
What are the types of distraction?There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.
Distracted driving activitiesAnything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others. Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.
How big is the problem?
US deathsIn 2015, 3,477 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.
US injuriesIn 2015, 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.
|Distracted Driving Deaths||3,092||3,331||3,328||3,154||3,179||3,477|
|All Motor Vehicle Deaths||32,999||32,479||33,782||32,894||32,744||35,092|
|Distracted Driving Injuries||416,000||387,000||421,000||424,000||431,000||391,000|
|All Motor Vehicle Injuries||2,239,000||2,217,000||2,362,000||2,313,000||2,338,000||2,443,000|
What is being done?
- Many states are enacting laws—such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers—to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to help prevent it from occurring. However, the effectiveness of cell phone and texting laws on decreasing distracted driving-related crashes requires further study. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety keeps track of distracted driving laws.
- As of June 2017, 14 states and the District of Columbia had banned drivers from hand-held phone use.
- As of June 2017, texting while driving is banned in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Two additional states ban texting while driving only for new drivers.
- Some local governments also have bans on cell phone use and texting while driving.
- On September 30, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or with government equipment.
- On September 17, 2010, the Federal Railroad Administration banned cell phone and electronic device use of employees on the job.
- On October 27, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.
- In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration banned all hand-held cell phone use by commercial drivers and drivers carrying hazardous materials.
- From 2010 to 2013, NHTSA evaluated the Distracted Driving Demonstration Projects. These projects increased police enforcement of distracted driving laws and increased awareness of distracted driving using radio advertisements, news stories, and similar media. After the projects were complete, observed driver cell phone use fell from 4.1% to 2.7% in California, 6.8% to 2.9% in Connecticut, 4.5% to 3.0% in Delaware, and 3.7% to 2.5% in New York.
- In April of 2015, NHTSA began the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. NHTSA provides campaign materials for state and local law enforcement: