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April: National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April: National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distracted Driving: Shocking Statistics

We all know it’s dangerous to text and drive, but seeing the statistics puts the danger into perspective. According to the National Safety Council, 23 percent of car crashes are caused by so-called distracted drivers. That’s 1.3 million auto accidents every single year, making distracted driving just as deadly as driving drunk.

Although texting is the biggest culprit when it comes to driver distractions, simply talking on a cell phone while operating a vehicle is inherently risky. The National Safety Council warns that even hands-free devices make drivers four times as likely to crash.

Like most states, Arkansas has implemented laws that seek to curb driver distractions. Unfortunately, these laws have done little to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents.

Arkansas Distracted Driving Laws

Arkansas law bans all use of handheld devices for drivers between the ages of 18 and 20. State law also prohibits all drivers, regardless of age, from texting and driving. This means drivers age 21 and over can still drive and talk on their phones without penalty.

“The Distracted Brain”

Although driving is something most of us seem to do on autopilot, driving a vehicle is actually a complicated task that requires a tremendous amount of concentration and motor skill. Research from the National Safety Council shows that drivers who hold cell phone conversations while driving miss half of the information in their environment. When we talk and drive, the distraction impacts three layers of driving.

Visual

We miss exits, fail to see red lights, and miss out on important details in our visual fields.

Manual

Even hands-free devices require us to take our hands off the wheel. Fiddling with phone buttons, wires, and power sources compromises our ability to stay in control of the vehicle. Reaction times are slower, leading to more accidents.

Cognitive

When our brains are inside a conversation, they are less likely to be focused on the task of driving.