Laws of Distraction: Scary stats about distracted driving

Phoenix, April 2, 2013. Drivers who change a radio station, talk to kids in the back seat or take a sip of soda all have something in common: Their attention is being taken off the road. To call attention to this dangerous habit, alongside the National Safety Council, AAA observes Distracted Driving Awareness Month alongside the National Safety Council in April.

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a person’s attention away from the task of driving and includes texting; using a cell phone; eating and drinking; talking to passengers; grooming; reading; using a navigation system; adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player.

“In 2011, more than 3,300 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in crashes that involved a distracted driver,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “As an advocate for the safety of the driving public, AAA urges motorists to stop this dangerous and often deadly behavior.”

AAA notes some scary statistics on distracted driving:

  • Banning together: More than nine in 10 (92 percent) of AAA members support a statewide ban on texting for all drivers. Nearly three out of four (72 percent) of AAA members support a ban on the use of all hand-held and hands-free cell phones while driving except for in emergency situations.
     
  • Text study: According to CTIA The Wireless Association®, a trade association representing the wireless communications industry, 18 percent of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. In June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the U.S., up nearly 50 percent from June 2009.
     
  • Distracted drivers: Pew research notes that 11 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to be distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted. Additionally, 40 percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.
     
  • Hands-free, baby: Research from Monash University showed that drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
     
  • Scary statistic: According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent ­ at 55 mph ­ of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
     
  • Ban on the run: Thirty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. Twelve of these laws were enacted in 2010 alone. Arizona is one of five states without a statewide distracted driving law of any kind. Currently, only Phoenix and Tucson have bans on text messaging.

“It’s important to get into the habit of eliminating distractions now before the law requires you to,” Gorman said. “No one’s life is more important than a phone call.”

AAA is an advocate for the safety and security for the motoring public. For more information on the club’s advocacy efforts, visit www.aaa.com.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.