As you sit down with your morning coffee and prepare to start your day, ponder this data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—in the past 24 hours, more than 1,000 people in America suffered injuries and nine people lost their lives because of distracted driving. Distracted driving statistics in Georgia and the U.S. are just beginning to show drivers how this behavior contributes to crashes.
What Is the Definition of Distracted Driving?
When your attention is on something else while you are driving, you are a distracted driver. You do not have to be doing something physical, like reaching for an item that rolled under your seat or changing the radio station. Mere daydreaming can lead to distracted driving because it diverts your attention from the task of driving.
Distracted driving can occur due to:
- Cognitive distractions, such as daydreaming;
- Manual distractions, including any time you use your hands to do something other than drive; and
- Visual distractions, which take your eyes off of the road.
Texting is an increasingly common — and dangerous — distraction for drivers across Georgia.
Why Is Texting Behind the Wheel so Dangerous?
There are two reasons why texting can lead to horrific crashes.
In the few seconds it takes to read or send a quick text, a vehicle traveling at 55 miles per hour will cover the length of a football field. A lot of life-changing events can happen within the space of 100 yards.
While your car travels that distance, you are also engaging in all three types of distractions. Your mind focuses on the message or on your response, your hands open the app and type a reply, and your eyes are on your mobile screen instead of on the road.
How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving for Georgia Motorists?
The CDC states that, in 2015, nearly 3,500 people in America died from wrecks that included distracted drivers. These accidents caused almost 400,000 injuries across the country.
Even though the state banned texting while driving in 2010, distracted driving is still a problem in Georgia. We are, however, making headway on the issue. In 2010, 1,686 drivers were in fatal crashes in the state. More than 10 percent of them were driving while distracted. The number of distracted drivers involved in an accident has dropped to between 2.7 and 3.6 percent since 2011. In 2015, only 3.5 percent of drivers in fatal accidents were distracted.
This drop-off in the numbers may seem like a positive thing, but state departments suspect people grossly under-report distracted driving.
Who Are the Worst Offenders?
According to the CDC, drivers under age 20 are the most at risk for a fatal distracted driving accident. In 2015, 42 percent of high school drivers admitted to sending a text or email while driving during the previous 30 days.
A student who self-reports that he or she frequently texts behind the wheel is also more likely to:
- Drive while alcohol-impaired;
- Ride as a passenger with a driver who has consumed alcohol; and
- Avoid wearing a seatbelt.
These bad choices compound the likelihood a fatal car accident will occur.
How to Protect Yourself Against Distracted Driving
You can protect yourself against an accident by following the law and avoiding distractions while you drive. Georgia is one of 46 states that prohibits texting for all drivers. Drivers who break this law not only put themselves and others in danger, they may face legal consequences.
You can also protect your safety by avoiding drivers who are texting or distracted in some other manner. If you see that the driver behind you is not paying attention, safely change lanes and allow them to pass.
It is also important to set a good example for the younger drivers in your household. Teens are unlikely to follow the rules if you do not.