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Distracted Driving Major Cause of Vehicle Crashes

Graph of Distracted Driving Accidents

Chart Credit New England Journal of Medicine

The New England Journal of Medicine published an article today related to distracted driving and texting. The conclusion of the article: “The risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones.”
One of the riskiest driving behaviors is the performance of a secondary task such as texting, eating, adjusting the radio. According to the article, estimates based on cell phone records indicate that cell-phone use among all drivers increase the risk of crash by a factor of 4.

Secondary tasks observed in the study included:
  • Talking on a cell phone (either a handheld or a hands-free device)
    • Dialing a cell phone or other handheld device (includes the use of shortcut keys)
    • Reaching for a cell phone (includes locating and answering)
    • Reaching for an inanimate object inside the vehicle
    • Sending text messages or using the Internet to read e-mail or Web content
    • Adjusting the radio, HVAC, or other internal vehicle system with controls on the dashboard
    • Adjusting controls other than those for the radio or HVAC (e.g., windows, seat belt, rearview mirror, or sun visor)
    • Looking at a roadside object (e.g., a previous crash or highway incident, a construction zone, a pedestrian, an animal, or other known or unknown object)
    • Eating (with or without utensils)
    • Drinking a nonalcoholic beverage from an open container with or without a lid, straw, or both

Source: Sheila G. Klauer, Ph.D., Feng Guo, Ph.D., Bruce G. Simons-Morton, Ed.D., M.P.H., Marie Claude Ouimet, Ph.D., Suzanne E. Lee, Ph.D., and Thomas A. Dingus, Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2014; 370:54-59January 2, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa1204142