Distracted driving discussions tend to refer to motorists who play on their phone, make work calls and fiddle with the radio as "the other." However, new findings from data analytics firm Zendrive reveals most people behind the wheel divide their attention.
In one of the largest recent distracted driving studies, researchers dove into information gleaned from 3 million anonymous drivers who made some 570 million trips spanning 5.6 billion miles over the course of three months.
What they found was truly frightening: Out of every 100 car trips, drivers used their cell phones in 88 of them. That means in almost 9 out of 10 vehicle rides, motorists were distracted. That tells us the problem of distracted driving goes far beyond the bad behavior of an isolated few rebels. It's something the majority of drivers are doing, and it dramatically increases the risk of a crash.
What's more, drivers in L.A. were found to be the No. 1 most distracted in the nation. This is true even though there is a ban on hand-held cell phones. Assembly Bill 1785, passed last year and in effect since Jan. 1, 2017, prohibits California drivers from using their phones unless the device is mounted on a dashboard or windshield or is voice-activated. A first-time offense is just $20, and each subsequent offense will cost you $50.
Another figure that is deeply troubling, though perhaps not shocking given what we know about the levels of driver distraction, is that motor vehicle deaths have spiked dramatically just in the last two years. The National Safety Council reported early estimates from 2016 are that motor vehicle fatalities were up 6 percent from just one year earlier, topping 40,200. That's compared to the 2015 total, which was 37,750. It should be noted that 2015 marked a steep increase in traffic deaths as well, up 7 percent from the year before.
The number of injuries, reports the NSC, were tallied at 4.6 million. The societal costs incurred as a result of that were estimated to be at $432 billion - a 12 percent uptick from just a year earlier.
These are more than merely statistics. These are traumatic experiences. Trips to the hospitals. Painful surgeries and recoveries. Lives forever impacted.
Our car accident attorneys serving the San Fernando Valley are committed to helping those who have been injured or who have lost loved ones to recover damages incurred as a result of dangerous and distracted drivers.
Some motorists clearly have a false sense of confidence about their ability to multi-task behind the wheel. Here's the truth: Multi-tasking is a myth. Studies have shown the human brain can only focus on a single high-level task at one time. We may switch tasks quickly, but we generally can't do them simultaneously. Driving and talking and texting are all high-level tasks. If you're the person behind the wheel, you're No. 1 responsibility to yourself, your passengers and others on the road is to focus on that task - and that task only.
Take your eyes of the road for a mere 2 seconds, and you will increase your risk of a crash 20-fold. If you are traveling at a speed of 55 mph and you tear your eyes away from the road for just two seconds, you've already passed the length of two basketball courts. A serious traffic accident that can forever change lives occurs in merely a blink.
Zendrive characterizes its analysis as the "largest distracted driving study conducted to date."
The primary takeaway of these findings is that approximately 660 million trips every single day are made in which a driver is distracted. When you consider the average time a driver spends on his or her phone is 3.5 minutes, it's no wonder the number of traffic deaths has spiked so substantially.