A distraction is anything that takes your mind and attention away from driving.
There are three main types of distraction (1):
- Visual — taking your eyes off the road
- Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing
DID YOU KNOW…
- In 2021, there were 3,522 people killed in crashes involving distracted driving across the nation, 73 of which were people ages 18-24 in Texas (2).
- Handheld cell phone use continues to be higher among female drivers than male drivers (3).
- From 2007 to 2021, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers (3).
Cell Phones are a distraction
- In 2021, 77% of drivers killed in distracted driving-related crashes were male (2).
- A driver is four times more likely to crash when using a cell phone while driving, regardless of whether it’s hand-held or hands-free (4).
- Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing, and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times (5).
- Texting and driving causes reaction time to double and those drivers have a harder time staying in their lane and maintaining a consistent speed (6).
Passengers are a distraction
- Two out of every three youths that died as passengers are in vehicles driven by other teens (8).
- In 2021, 57% of the deaths of teenage passengers in passenger vehicles occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager. (7)
- Research has shown that crash risk and the risk of being killed in a crash increases as the number of young passengers in the vehicle increases (8).
How to Stop Distracted Driving
- Focus on the road. When you are driving is not the time to multi-task.
- Keep distractions out of the car. If you know you will be tempted to look at or use your phone, lock it in the trunk or turn it off.
- Ask passengers to obey your rules while they are in the car, meaning buckle up and don’t distract you.
- Designate a texter. If you have a passenger, hand over your phone so they can do your texting or talking for you.
- Be a good passenger by not distracting the driver.
- Know that as a driver, you have the responsibility to yourself and others. A vehicle is heavy machine and should be treated with respect.
- Set your music/radio before you take your car out of Park.
- Never use headphones while driving. It’s illegal and dangerous.
- Keep passengers to a minimum. If every person doesn’t have a seat belt, you have too many passengers.
- If you don’t feel well or emotionally able to drive – don’t. Ask for a ride or wait until you are able.
- Know your limitations. Driving experience comes with time. It’s ok to not be ready for certain driving conditions. Never feel pressured to drive dangerously or beyond your experience.
- CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/Distracted_Driving/index.html
- NHTSA FARS Data, 2021
- National Safety Council: https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/motor-vehicle-safety-issues/distracted-driving/data-details/
- National Safety Council: https://nsc-org-storage.azureedge.net/cms/nsc.org/media/site-media/docs/safe-driving/reports/corp-liability-report.pdf
- Fitch, G. A., Soccolich, S. A., Guo, F., McClafferty, J., Fang, Y., Olson, R. L., Perez, M. A., Hanowski, R. J., Hankey, J. M., & Dingus, T. A. (2013, April). The impact of hand-held and hands-free cell phone use on driving performance and safety-critical event risk. (Report No. DOT HS 811 757). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, https://featured.vtti.vt.edu/2013/05/new-vtti-study-results-continue-to-highlight-the-dangers-of-distracted-driving/
- Texas A&M Transportation Institute: https://tti.tamu.edu/news/new-study-says-texting-doubles-a-driver%E2%80%99s-reaction-time/
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Fatality Facts 2021: Teenagers. Retrieved from https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/teenagers#passenger-vehicle-occupants
- Ouimet MC, Pradhan AK, Brooks-Russell A, Ehsani JP, Berviche D, Simons-Morton BG. Young drivers and their passengers: a systematic review of epidemiological studies on crash risk. 2015. Journal of Adolescent Health 57 (1 Suppl): S24-35.
Updated August 2023