April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Rather than posting at the beginning of the month, however, we thought we’d wait until the end as a reminder that distracted driver awareness should extend well beyond the confines of April. And, rather than lecturing you about distracting driving (c’mon, we all know it’s dangerous), we thought we’d offer up some facts you might find surprising … and perhaps sobering.
1. Holding your phone while driving is illegal in California
Both talking and texting without a hands-free device have been outlawed in California for a few years now. But recently, a California appeals court ruled that Steven Spriggs violated that law when he used his phone as a navigation device.
California law states: “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.” Though Spriggs was likely not talking to his device (though, let’s be honest, we’ve all yelled at our GPS at some point), he was holding it to navigate, and according to the appeals court, that’s a no-no.
Distracted driving solution: Even though GPS isn’t banned in most states, typing map coordinates and looking at directions is just as dangerous as texting. Instead, set your coordinates ahead of time (or pull over) and use a program that provides turn-by-turn navigation. That way, you can listen instead of look. Granted, it’s not a perfect solution — listening is a cognitive distraction — but driving around lost and confused can actually be worse.
2. Baby on Board means distracted driver on board too
I, admittedly, have never been a fan of the Baby on Board bumper sticker (let’s hope my driving is safe enough that it doesn’t need to be adjusted for your little one). But, while I used to get annoyed when I saw the sign, now I feel nervous. According to ABC News, a recent Australian study — the first of its kind — found that driving with kids is 12 times more distracting than talking on a cell phone!
Researchers report that, on average, parents take their eyes off the road for 3 minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip. After all, it’s harder to ignore a screaming child than a ringing cell phone (if only you could set a child to silent mode …).
Distracted driving solution: Obviously we can’t ban kids in cars, so it’s important for parents to be prepared before setting out. Scheduling drives around nap time, having child-accessible snacks handy, and setting expectations ahead of time can help reduce some of this distraction. If your child needs your attention NOW, pull over rather than put yourself, your child, and others at risk.
3. Distracted driving is more common in the U.S. than in Europe
A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compared distracted driving in the U.S. with 7 European countries and found that drivers in the U.S. had the highest rate of talking while driving and one of the highest for texting and driving. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. respondents admitted to talking on their cell phones while driving. Meanwhile, only about 20 percent of drivers in the UK are guilty of this habit.
Distracted driving solution: If you can’t trust yourself to ignore the phone, stick it in the trunk or install a driving app to automatically send a message that you’re driving and will respond later.
4. Adults text and drive more often than teens
Though teen drivers usually take the spotlight in the distracted driving discussion, a recent survey by AT&T shows that adults are actually the bigger culprits (so much for being good role models). Though 98 percent of respondents claimed they knew that texting and driving is dangerous, 49 percent of adults admitted to doing it anyway (compared to 43 percent of teens). And this number is up from 3 years ago!
A survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows slightly different results — 18- to 20-year- olds not only text/email more often than older drivers, but also have had more accidents as a result. Talking on the phone while driving, however, was still dominated by adult drivers.
Distracted driving solution: Pretty similar to the one above. But if you’re an Esurance customer with a teen driver, we have an added solution for you …
Esurance offers free teen driver safety device
Even though teens may not be the biggest distracted driving culprits, they aren’t too far behind. And, as new drivers, they need all the extra help they can get.
But now, with our teen safety driving device, parents can control what apps their teen can and can’t use behind the wheel.
Best of all, if you’re an Esurance customer with a teenage driver, the device is free. Learn more about our teen driver safety device.
Tell us your thoughts
What do you find to be the biggest driving distraction? And how do you combat it? Let us know in the comments section!