GHSA Surveys The Science Of Distraction, Finds 15%-30% Of Crashes Involve Distracted Drivers

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association has reviewed a number of studies on distracted driving, and its report [ PDF here] shows a number of disturbing findings. A few of the highlights (or is that lowlights?):

  • At least one driver was reported to have been distracted in 15% to 30% of crashes at all levels, minor to fatal. The proportion of distracted drivers may be greater because investigating officers may not detect or record all distractions. In many crashes it is not known whether the distractions caused or contributed to the crash.
  • In almost 80% of all crashes and 65% of near-crashes the driver was looking away from the forward roadway just before the incident and that secondary task distraction contributed to 22% of the crashes and near-crashes
  • about two-thirds of all drivers reported using a cell phone while driving; about one-third used a cell phone routinely. In observational studies during daylight hours in 2009, between 7% and 10% of all drivers were using a cell phone… about one-eighth of all drivers reported texting while driving. In observational studies during daylight hours in 2009, fewer than 1% of all drivers were observed to be texting.
  • Cognitive distractions by themselves – thinking about something other than driving, without any manual or visual distraction – can affect driving performance. Two recent studies reinforce the conclusion that distractions affect the mind, not just the eyes, ears, or hands
  • [Two] studies found that crash risk was about four times greater when using a cell phone. Hands-free phones did not appear to be any safer than hand-held phones.
  • In the only study of texting bans, HLDI studied their effect on collision claims using the same methods as their 2009 study of cell phone laws. They concluded that texting bans did not reduce collision claims. In fact, there appears to have been a small increase in claims in the states enacting texting bans compared to neighboring states… there is no evidence that cell phone or texting laws have reduced crashes.

If you’re at all interested in a relatively concise (50 pages) overview of the state of distracted driving research, this report is well worth a download. Ultimately, though, the report offers more challenges than easy answers, as it largely debunks the notion that increased enforcement or hands-free laws make much of a difference in the problem. [via AutoObserver]

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2 of 45 comments
  • Robert Fahey Robert Fahey on Jul 23, 2011

    "Cognitive distraction" eh? Cogito ergo boom.

  • Corky Boyd Corky Boyd on Jul 23, 2011

    Where on earth did you get that picture? It just goes to prove here are things even the Japanese haven't thought of. I'm still trying to figure how you get a 1500 watt waffle maker to operate from a lighter socket. That's over 120 amps on a 12 volt system. That's really heavy duty. Clever these Americans!

  • CaddyDaddy Coney Island in Bailey, Colorado off of US 285. Man oh man, Caddy Daddy could use a Chicago Dog, side of fries and a root beer. Good Times!
  • MaintenanceCosts Imagine that... the OEM that doesn't make absurd false claims about "Full Self-Driving" and that doesn't release beta software onto public streets gets better treatment from the regulator.
  • MaintenanceCosts Yes, yes, balance, quick turn-in, working the gears, blah, blah.I'm sorry, none of it is convincing. A 3-series needs two more cylinders than this so that it doesn't sound like a Jetta on $199/month special.
  • MaintenanceCosts Is Stellantis capable of making a product for the American market without embarrassing levels of over-the-top fake machismo?
  • Philip This raises two questions for me:[list=1][*]What happens to all of the chargepoint that we have installed at our homes? Do those all have to be replaced?[/*][*]What happens to all of the billions of dollars from the federal government being spent on non-tesla ports at wal-marts and pilot service centers? [/*][/list=1]