In a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was found that 15 people die every day in the U.S. because of distracted driving. The main sources of distracted driving come from talking on a cell phone and texting. Of course, drivers can be distracted by a myriad of other, things, such as eating, drinking, talking with passengers, tuning the radio, etc. However, texting is a main culprit for causing accidents because it combines visual, manual, and cognitive distractions.
The CDC study found that “[i]n 2009, more than 5,400 people were killed and an additional 448,000 were injured in crashes that were reported to involve driving while distracted. Among those killed or injured in these crashes, nearly 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries included cell phone use as the major distraction.
The following graph illustrates cell phone usage (texting & emailing) among different age groups. As expected, the youngest age group, 18-29, reports the highest usage rates.
As the CDC notes, distracted driving is a growing public health concern. As we become more and more attached to our smart phones, this problem does not appear to be going away anytime soon. Of course, some states have enacted laws prohibiting or limiting the use of cell phones while driving.
Under Utah law, careless driving is defined as committing a moving violation (other than speeding) while distracted by use of a handheld cellphone or other activities not related to driving. In Utah, there is a general ban on texting while driving.
The federal government has a website dedicated to the issue of distracted driving and distracted driving laws -www.distraction.gov. This website is a great resource that should be shared with all young drivers. Hopefully, parents, educators, and law enforcement will continue to stress the importance of turning off the cell phone while driving. Here’s a video clip that’s sure to get your attention: