5 Dangerous Distracted Driving Myths
You might consider yourself a multi-tasking whiz. Listening to a conference call and eating breakfast while texting might be fine when you’re sitting at the kitchen table, but juggling these tasks when you’re behind the wheel of a car can be deadly.
While most people agree that these behaviors prevent drivers from focusing on the road, that doesn’t stop them from doing it. Despite a recent study showing that 79.7% of drivers view talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving "very or extremely dangerous", 43.2% reported that they did so at least once in the past 30 days. Why the disconnect? It might have something to do with the myths surrounding distracted driving.
Here are some data-packed figures that might help provide insight into the cost of multi-tasking while sitting in the driver's seat.
Myth #1: Distracted driving only results in minor vehicle damage.
Distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in 2018. That number represents 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists. The National Safety Council believes that underreporting is a problem and numbers are likely higher than those presented here. We do know that these numbers don’t include people who had to seek medical treatment or were permanently disabled because of a distracted driver collision.
Myth #2: A few seconds of distraction doesn’t make a difference.
If you’re known for your ninja texting skills, then sending messages, viewing email, and other device tasks may only take a few seconds to complete. Whether it’s swiping down, up, left, or right, those precious seconds while driving cover more ground than you think. Even five seconds is too long to take your eyes off the road. At 55mph, you can drive the length of a football field in five seconds.
Myth #3: Using your cellphone at a stoplight isn’t considered distracted driving.
A recent study found it can take up to 27 seconds to regain your full attention after using your phone, even if you're just issuing voice commands on your mobile device. This includes using your voice to dial a number, skip to the next song on your playlist, or send texts. While people might feel comfortable using voice-directed services, that doesn’t mean they’re a good idea while driving.
Myth #4: Voice-to-text applications are safer than manual texting.
Hands-free doesn't mean accident free. One of the first studies comparing voice texting to manual texting while driving found a 2x slower response time regardless of which texting method was used.
Myth #5: Only cellphones are to blame for distracted driving.
Distracted driving existed before the invention of cellphones. However, they may have shed more light on the problem. Other common distractions that can cause an accident include eating, talking to passengers, adjusting audio, and reaching for rolling objects in your vehicle.
Did You Know?
There’s another reason to say “no” to distracted driving. Your driving record influences your auto insurance rate. A history of accidents can increase rates while a clean driving record might allow you to secure less expensive insurance. If you’ve recently been in an accident and your rates have increased, it might be time to shop for comparable insurance quotes.
Make safe driving the priority each time you slide into the driver’s seat. Resist the urge to start another task while driving. Your family, friends, and finances will be glad you did.
Distracted Driving. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved August 31, 2020, from
Learn the Facts About Distracted Driving. End Distracted Driving. Retrieved August 31, 2020, from https://www.enddd.org/the-facts-about-distracted-driving/
The University of Utah® (2015, October 22). Up to 27 Seconds of Inattention After Talking to Your Car or Smartphone, Distraction Rated “High” For Most Devices While Driving. UNEWS