Did you know that, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), distracted driving killed 3,331 Americans in 2011, and 387,000 drivers suffered non-fatal injuries while texting or talking on the phone? The mobile revolution is sweeping the country, and a growing number of Americans are using smartphones, iPods, and tablet computers. Numbers suggest, however, that these same Americans have little discretion when it comes to keeping devices in-hand at the wheel. What are the leading causes of auto accidents, and does research show that mobile devices are to blame?
Why Are People Getting Into Accidents?
Distracted driving is the third leading cause of U.S. auto accidents, right behind drunk driving (the leading cause) and speeding. What are some quick facts about distracted driving?
- Nearly 9/10 Americans believe their personal safety is “somewhat” or “very” threatened by drivers on cellphones, according to 2012’s Traffic Safety Culture Index.
- Texting makes accidents 23 times more likely.
- Drivers using any handheld device are four times more likely to crash.
The most disturbing thing about these facts may very well be that, while drivers feel threatened by others using mobile devices behind the wheel, most are likely to do it themselves. In a 2012 survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 70% of respondents admit to talking on their cellphones while driving at least once in any given month, and over a third confess to texting or even sending e-mails.
How Can You Avoid Accidents?
U.S. men and women cannot directly control the actions of other drivers. Drivers are likely to continue texting, answering their phones, or even browsing the web, despite associated risks and traffic violations. What can drivers do prevent accidents, and what factors remain within drivers’ control?
- Whenever possible, avoid urban areas. Drivers are much more likely to get into accidents in densely populated cities. Washington, D.C. is, in fact, the U.S. city with the most auto accidents. Typical D.C. drivers get into accidents once every 4.8 years. That is less than half the national average (once every 10 years). If you cannot take to the back roads, avoid driving in urban areas during rush hour.
- Don’t drive black cars. Black cars can be difficult to see at night. Once it’s dark, drivers of black cars are up to 47% more likely to be in car accidents.
Statistically speaking, accidents are unavoidable. Drivers can dramatically reduce risks of auto accidents by knowing some of the leading causes (including distracted driving), and choosing routes and car models with safety in mind.