Distracted driving realities

Pennsylvania residents have no doubt heard and read much about the dangers of distracted driving in the past several years. While texting seems to get the brunt of the attention when people talk about distracted driving, it is important for people to understand that dangerous distractions can and do take many forms.

Research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute looked at the impact of talking on a phone while driving. Interestingly, once a call was in progress and a driver was simply engaging in conversation, there was no identified increase in the risk of an accident versus if the driver was not talking on the phone. However, actions that must be taken to initiate, end or answer calls while driving were associated with an increase in the risk of an accident. That increase was as much as three times.

The increased risk of an accident associated with texting was two times – less than that associated with activities related to phone calls. Other research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Center for Statistics and Analytics looked at trends in the visible manipulation or handheld use of phones among drivers.

The percent of drivers manipulating phones such as to text rose every year from 2010 to 2014 but remained stagnant from 2014 to 2015. The percent of drivers operating phones by hand was up in 2012 over the prior year but then declined each of the three subsequent years. Even with these improvements, distracted drivers continue to pose a serious threat to people on Pennsylvania roadways.