Calling all Drivers: Eyes on the Road

January 3, 2014

Cell phone use while driving increases the risk of a crash by a factor of four, according to a new report in this week’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, titled “Distracted Driving and Risk of Road Crashes among Novice and Experienced Drivers.”

Last week we reported that Florida drivers are the most careless in the country, in our post titled “Florida Ranks #6 in Worst Drivers Nationally.”

Careless driving can be caused by distractions like cell phones and texting. New drivers are particularly susceptible to inappropriate multi-tasking on the road, based on the results of data compiled by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development.

Researchers documented that young drivers 15 to 20 years of age represent 6.4% of all drivers, but are responsible for a disproportionate 10.0% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and 14.0% of injury accidents reported to police.

Young drivers are more at risk of a crash or near-crash according to the study, particularly when they engage in the following activities while driving:

  • Dialing a cell phone
  • Reaching for a cell phone
  • Sending or receiving text messages
  • Reaching for an object inside the car
  • Watching an object on the side of the road
  • Eating

Older drivers were also found to be at increased risk of accidents when distracted by cell phone usage.

Data used in the study dates back to the time periods 2003 to 2004, and 2006 to 2008, indicating a likelihood that the number of distracted drivers has grown over the years with the proliferation of smart phones and other mobile devices.

The old adage “eyes on the road” remains good advice for today’s increasingly distracted drivers.