Let’s Prevent Distracted Driving!

Impaired driver distracted by coffee and food

Distracted Driving Prevention

"Drivers spend more than half their time focused on things other than driving" — AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

On today's crowded roadways, inattention can be deadly. Driving is a task that requires a person's full attention, as they have to be able to recognize a situation on the road and react within seconds. Anything that takes a driver's eyes off the road can have a negative effect on reaction time.

Distracted driving is a major contributor to car crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people were killed and 387,000 injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011. Contrary to popular belief, talking on a cell phone (hand-held or hands-free) isn't the only form of distraction behind the wheel.

Have you ever done any of these activities while driving?

  • Talking to a passenger
  • Eating lunch
  • Tending to a child or pet passenger
  • Brushed your hair or applied makeup
  • Read a map or printed directions
  • Used your navigation system or adjusted the radio, CD or mp3 player

If you answered yes to any of these, then you have engaged in distracting behaviors behind the wheel.

Types Of Distraction

Distractions fall into three categories:

  • Visual - Eyes off the road
  • Manual - Hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive - Mind off the task of driving

Cognitive distraction can come in many forms, including thinking about your long “to-do" list, reflecting on a conversation you had or something that happened earlier in the day, or having a conversation on your hands-free device. Cognitive distraction is particularly problematic because—although the driver may be looking at the road or maneuvering the steering wheel with both hands—their mind is focused on something other than the task of driving.

Understanding Distraction Infograph

University Of Utah Research

Cognitive distraction is the subject of a recent research project undertaken by Dr. David Strayer at the University of Utah. Having studied the effects of distracted driving for more than a decade, Dr. Strayer—at the request of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety—turned his focus to cognitive distraction and measured drivers' performance as they engaged in different tasks behind-the-wheel, to determine how a variety of activities and in-vehicle technologies actually affect drivers.

Some of the findings from Dr. Strayer's groundbreaking research revealed that phone conversations had the same effect on drivers' performance, regardless of whether they were on a hand-held or hands-free device, and that new vehicle technologies, including voice-activated “infotainment" systems are extremely distracting, even though the drivers' eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel.

Read the full study