Distracted Driving Overview
Distracted Driving is a National Crisis
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration defines “distraction” as “a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity instead. It is worth noting that “distraction” is a subset of “inattention” (which also includes fatigue, physical conditions of the driver, and emotional conditions of the driver).”
The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles provides a simpler definition: distracted driving is “…[a]ny activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the task of driving.”
Image: Driver distracted by cell phone.
What is Distracted Driving? It Can Be Many Things.
According to the Florida DMV, distracted driving involves many things:
- Eating and drinking
- An outside person, object or event: animal, a crash scene, or road construction
- Adjusting a radio, cassette, compact disc player, I-pod or GPS device
- Other occupant in the vehicle: talking, arguing, or assisting a child
- A moving object in the vehicle: a pet, an insect, or an object falling off the seat
- Smoking related: reaching for, lighting, smoking, or dropping a cigarette
- Cell phone related: dialing, talking, listening, texting or reaching for a cell phone
- Other device brought into the vehicle: reaching for a water bottle, purse or sun glasses
- Using a device integral to the vehicle: adjusting mirrors, lights, or seatbelt
- Other distraction: a medical issue, looking at a map or road sign, sleepy, or fatigue
- Inattentive or lost in thought
In 2011, almost 44,000 drivers died in a motor vehicle accident that involved distracted driving. The most were driving passenger cars (17,335) but a close second statistically were those driving light trucks (16,643). Motorcycle accidents where the motorcycle driver died in an accident caused by distracted driving totalled 4741 in 2011; 3568 truck drivers died in 2011 because of distracted driving and 243 bus drivers died from distracted driving in 2011.
Table: Distracted Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes by Type of Vehicle in 2011
Distracted Driving in Florida: the Numbers
In Florida, distracted driving is a serious concern. In 2010, statistics compiled by the State of Florida show a number of different causes for motor vehicle accidents in 2010 including many factors that are impacted by the Florida DMV’s distracted driving definition (as shown above) including 332 people who died from “careless driving” and 48 people who “disregarded traffic signal.”
Table: Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents in Florida in 2010
Saturday is the Most Dangerous Day to Drive in Florida
The Florida Department of Health has compiled statistics based upon 2009 data of motor vehicle accidents in the state, reporting that Saturday is the most dangerous day of the week to drive on Florida roadways. In 2009, 425 people died on a Saturday and another 2410 accident victims suffered serious injuries in these crashes that required hospital care.
The safest day of the week to drive in Florida, according to the 2009 study, is Wednesday from a fatality perspective: 300 people died on a Wednesday in Florida during the year 2009. However, the least number of non-fatal car accident injuries did not occur on Wednesday, but on Tuesday with 1862 people requiring hospitalization in Florida after a car crash in 2009.
Table: 2009 Florida Motor Vehicle Accidents by Day of Week