Distracted driving is a topic that continues to come up for motorists, especially if they are teenagers. In California an unprecedented study has shown that younger drivers are partaking in distracted driving in high numbers.
Roadwatch, ironically done by the same students who would be affected by distracted driving, monitored 70 intersections near high schools in 26 counties throughout California, showing that in one hour there were more than 7,000 cases of distracted driving. This means that at any given intersection, there were nearly 100 cases of distracted driving in one hour.
The California Highway Patrol defines distracted driving by more than just using a cellphone while driving, but rather as a range of activities that impact a driver's visual, auditory, physical or cognitive abilities while behind the wheel.
The study was funded by the Allstate Foundation, showing that distracted driving ranged from various practices, including talking and texting on a mobile phone, to smoking and one instance even recorded a driver using his tablet computer while driving. Drivers in three cases failed to stop at a red light due to distractions while driving.
"Reducing distractions behind the wheel is something we all can do - it costs nothing and its savings are enormous," said Phil Telgenhoff, field vice president of Allstate in California. "When we choose to drive safer, we improve the safety of everyone on the road at the same time."
Eating or drinking while driving was the top distraction while driving, accounting for 2,028 of the 7,000 cases or approximately 30 cases per intersection. Talking on cellphones while driving followed with 1,103 cases or nearly 15 per site. In third was texting on a cellphone with 1,062, or nearly 14 per site and fourth was self grooming with 612 cases or approximately nine per site.
"Engaging California's young people like this encourages their positive and healthy development and empowers them to become active leaders," said Jim Kooler, director at CFNLP. "Programs like our annual traffic safety summit and this Roadwatch allow California youths to lead their peers in reducing distracted driving collisions."
Last year the first year Roadwatch was conducted. In 62 sites monitored near California schools in 2011, there were more than 6,700 cases of distracted driving recorded. Following the results of the 2011 study, students of Magnolia High in Anaheim were able to obtain funding to have a crosswalk and traffic light installed near their school. Other students from Watsonville appeared before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, as well as other agencies, to actually re-engineer a local street to improve safety after presenting the results of their study.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed in a study that 94 percent of drivers consider texting while driving to be “a serious threat” while 87 percent would be in favor of banning texting while driving. In addition, 70 percent of respondents admitted to driving while talking on their cell phones and more than 30 percent admitted to checking texts or emails while driving.
Although many say distracted driving is a significant problem amongst motorists, others say the problem lies elsewhere.
On the other hand, the Society of Automotive Engineers estimated that turn signal neglect happens 750 billion times a year. The National Highway Traffic Safety administration estimates that 950,000 accidents happen every year due to distracted driving, but the SAE estimates that turn signal neglect accounts for 2 million accidents per year, accounting for twice as many accidents as distracted driving.
To be safe motorists should make sure they remained focused while driving, use their turn signal and have their car's brakes and engine inspected at a local auto shop.