Distracted Driving : Everything You Need To Know Guide

By Randy Luton | Last Updated: 05/18/2022

Key Insights

  • Distracted driving is very common nowadays, especially among young and teen drivers.
  • There are several types of distractions that affect a driver and it is divided into 4 major categories.
  • 48 states of our country have banned using mobile phones while driving.
  • Distracted driving also affects your car insurance rates and you might get a higher quotation as compared to other drivers.

Every day almost 8 people die in our country because of a distracted driver. In this world of everything digital, we get distracted with every Call, Text, and Email. We get hundreds of notifications every day and a lot of phone calls. And with every notification and call, we feel the urge to answer it immediately with the thought that we can multitask. Multi-tasking is okay until it is not dangerous for you and other drivers.

One second of distraction can lead to a huge accident and loss of lives. But distracted driving is not limited to using mobile phones, there are a lot of other factors that are included in distracted driving. This blog is to cover everything about distracted driving and its impact on our life and car insurance.

What is Distracted Driving?

In easy terms, distracted driving involves any type of activity that interrupts the attention of the driver while he/she is driving. It can be using your phone, eating, or even looking somewhere else instead of the road while driving.

Types of Distracted Driving

There are different types of distractions that affect the driver’s ability to focus on the road while driving. RateForce have divided these distractions into four major categories:

1. Cognitive

Cognitive distraction is very common nowadays with our overthinking mind and too much stress. In simple terms, this distraction occurs when your mind is off the road by thinking about something important. In most cases, it is when you are too emotional. Another factor is when you are too tired or sleepy while driving.

Let’s say you just had a break and you are thinking about all the good times you had with your partner and in this thinking, you didn’t pay attention to the traffic signal. This can lead to a fatal crash and huge damage to your car.

2. Auditory

Auditory distractions are the sounds that distract your mind from the road while you are driving. It can be loud music or a talkative passenger. Most of the time we think these things don’t affect our driving but in reality, they do.

Let’s say you are driving on the road with very loud music and you could not hear the honking of a truck behind you and you got into an accident with it.

3. Manual

This is when you try to take your hands off the wheel. This is also very common in our new generation. It can be to do an important task or to make Tik Tok. Yes, in this era of TikToks and Reels drivers are more focused on recording than driving. Doing stunts on live sessions or dancing while driving is common nowadays. This leads to distraction and accidents.

Let’s say you are driving on a highway thinking it would be safe to record video as there will be no traffic and suddenly a deer or bluebuck came out of nowhere in front of your car.

4. Visual

This type of distraction involves taking your eyes away from the road. Sometimes we try to find a place while driving and we forget to look at the road for a longer time and hence you get into a collision with another driver, animal or pedestrian. Another distraction is when we try to look at an accident that occurred on the other side of the road while driving or even checking out other vehicles.

The best example of this is when we drive in a high-traffic area while searching for our favorite restaurant or cafe.

Distracted Driving Statistics

To understand how serious the impact of distracted driving is; we need proof. The best proof is numbers and statistics. As per a detailed study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the NHTSA; around 80% of vehicle crashes and 65% of almost all vehicle crashes are because of an inattentive driver in the last 3 seconds.

48 states of our country have banned the usage of mobile phones while driving to avoid distracted driving. Teenage drivers are 8 times more likely to get into an accident while dialing and driving. Teenage drivers are 4 times more likely to get into an accident when texting and driving.

To support our argument more we have created a list of all the accidents and deaths caused by distracted driving.

YearDistracted Driving DeathsDistracted Driving Accidents
20192,895986,000
20182,645938,000
20173,003912,000
20163,197905,000
20153,242885,000
20142,972967,000
20132,910904,000
20123,098908,000
20113,047826,000
20102,993900,000

State Distracted Driving Laws

Every state has its own laws for distracted driving and that can vary a lot hence we have decided to list out the laws of the top states of our country.

Georgia

The Georgia state prohibits the following for every driver:

  • The use of handheld cell phones by all drivers – your phone should not be in contact with any part of your body if you are talking on it.
  • Distracted driving in general.
  • Writing, Sending, or even Sending any kind of text messages when the driver is driving.
  • Reading the information on social media or posting any kind of content to any social media when driving.
  • Recording short or long videos or even viewing videos on mobile phones while driving.
  • school bus drivers using any type of cell phone, or even hands-free.

Michigan

Michigan state also has unique laws for distracted driving:

  • Writing, Sending, or even Reading text messages when the driver is driving.
  • Drivers that are under 18 and have a Level 1 or Level 2 learner’s permit can not use cell phones when driving any vehicle or even can not use the hands-free mode of talking.
  • Commercial motor vehicles and school bus drivers are not allowed to use handheld cell phones.
  • No driver can use handheld cell phones in Detroit and Battle Creek city.

Florida

Florida has a different set of distracted driving laws:

  • The driver is not allowed to send, write or even read any kind of text message or notification.
  • No driver is allowed to use handheld cell phones in the school zones that are active.
  • The same goes for active work zones; drivers are not allowed to use handheld cell phones in work zones that are active.

California

California state has a unique set of laws for distracted driving:

  • All drivers are prohibited to send, receive or even read text messages or any kind of communication.
  • No driver can use handheld cell phones or any other communication devices.
  • Drivers with age less than 18 can not use any type of cell phone or even be hands-free.
  • The operator and driver of a school bus can not use a cell phone while driving.

Texas

In Texas, the laws of distracted driving are as below:

  • Drivers are not allowed for “Electronic messaging,” which includes any kind of sending, writing, or receiving texts, emails, and instant messages.
  • Drivers who have an age of fewer than 18 years can not use wireless communication devices.
  • Drivers who are more than 18 years of age with a learner’s permit can not use handheld cell phones during the first six months of driving.
  • Operators and drivers of a school bus can not use cell phones when children are present on the bus.
  • Every type of driver is not allowed to use any type of handheld device near the school crossing zones.

Examples of Distracted Driving

  • Texting
    One of the most common and dangerous distractions of this generation is texting. In a survey by AAA, 35% of drivers admit they send a text or email while driving. Even if it is not that urgent our teen drivers try to answer texts immediately which results in distraction.
  • Grooming, Changing, or Cleaning Clothes
    People try to fix their hair, put on makeup or lint roll their clothes while driving. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) declares in a study that drivers who try to put on makeup while driving increase their chances of getting into an accident by 3 times.
  • Calling On The Phone
    In a study by NHTSA in 2018; around 500,000 drivers were holding phones to their ears in the daytime. According to the National Safety Council; even though hands-free devices are considered risk-free but they are actually not that risk-free.
  • Reaching For An Item
    When drivers try to reach for an item in their car they get at the highest risk of getting into an accident while driving. As per a study by VTTI; these drivers increase their risk by 9 times as compared to the focused drivers.
  • Eating, Drinking, and Smoking
    According to NHTSA; eating food or drinking anything leads to taking your hand off the wheel and it increases the risk of crashing by 80%.
  • Passengers
    A heated argument with a friend or even a crying baby in the backseat can be a huge distraction for the driver. As per the study by VTTI; drivers who sing, talk or interact with another passenger increase the chances of getting into an accident.
  • Fiddling With Your Playlist, Climate Control, or GPS
    Infotainment has become a major feature in most cars today. More than 80% of the new vehicles are sold with the latest features like touch screen entertainment sets. According to National Security Council; these touch screen infotainment devices require more cognitive focus and take away your attention while driving.
  • Driving With A Pet
    As per a study by AAA; more than 80% of the drivers take their dogs on car trips with them. And 17% of them admit that they allow their dogs to sit on their lap while driving. These behaviors increase the chances of accidents

7 Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving

There are a lot of different ways you can adopt to avoid distractions while driving. We have listed out some ways you can try:

  1. Either Turn Your Phone Off or Keep It In Silent Mode
    A driver tends to interact with his or her phone when the phone buzzes right in front. The best way is to switch off the phone or turn on the silent mode to avoid the temptation of checking the notification.
  2. Set An Automated Message While Driving
    All the phones provide the option to set an automated “away” message. Whenever you get a text or call your phone will automatically send a message that you are driving and you will call them back when you will reach your destination.
  3. Pullover If It Is An Emergency
    If you think you need to call your family, friend, colleague, or any other person instantly then it is best to pull over your car. But make sure you are not pulling over on a busy road as it can be dangerous.
  4. Heard About The S-M-A-R-T Method?
    The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has created the SMART method for the drivers to avoid distractions. The full form of SMART is:
    S– Stay focused on driving
    M– Make preparations before you begin
    A– Avoid all other activities
    R– Rely on Passengers
    T– Text or talk later
  5. Try The 3-second Safe Following Rule
    The 3-second rule is helpful for the drivers to respond faster to brake lights and in the prevention of accidents. Most of the time distracted driving is dangerous because it affects the response of the driver to events on the road.
  6. Make Use Of Smart Vehicle Technology
    Modern cars provide amazing features and benefits to parents. They can set the speed limits, maximum volume levels of the stereo, and even a “do not disturb” mode in the car. Also, new cars come with a safety belt reminder which keeps on buzzing until the driver and the other passengers fasten their seat belts.
  7. Take Help From Your Passengers
    It is always better to establish boundaries with your passengers before you start driving. You can advise the passengers not to start any lengthy, touchy or emotional discussion while driving. Most importantly; passengers can help with the navigation as well as responding to your texts and calls.

How Distracted Driving Impacts Car Insurance Rates?

There are a lot of factors that impact the car insurance rates for any driver. And distracted driving is one of its most highly impacting factors. Drivers with distracted driving on record get into the category of risk drivers and they get higher car insurance rates as compared to other focussed drivers.

Is the distracted driving record will affect your insurance rate? It entirely depends on your state’s laws and your car insurance company. There are some companies that let go first times especially when they are loyal customers.

It is always better to shop around and compare the policies from different companies to check and understand what you can get as per your profile.

Difference Between Distracted Driving and Drunk Driving

Distracted DrivingDrunk Driving
Distracted driving is when the driver is not attentive while driving.Drunk driving or driving under the influence is when the driver is driving after having alcohol more than the allowed limit.
In 2018, more than 4,637 deaths were recorded due to distracted driving.10,511 people died in 2018 in accidents that involved drivers under the influence of alcohol.
The severity of distracted driving is not that high as compared to drunk driving because in this case the driver loses its focus for only a few minutesThe severity of drunk driving is way too high as compared to distracted driving because the driver is not in his or her senses for hours hence the driving skills will be impaired for hours
Every year more than $40 billion are spent on accidents related to distracted driving.Every year more than $132 billion are spent on accidents related to drunk drivers.
Mississippi witnessed the highest amount of driving time spent on texting, talking, surfing, or navigating on cell phones with 8.0%Between the years 2003 – 2011; Texas witnessed the highest number of DUI-related accidents with more than 13,000 fatalities.
Distracted driving can be seen in all age groups.Drunk drivers is common majorly in the young or teen drivers
More than 15,000 drivers were involved in accidents due to distractions between 15 years and 29 years.In 2017; almost 27% of drunk drivers were from the age group of 21 to 24 years.
This results in difficulty to steer away from danger, Impaired visual functions, less muscle coordination, less ability to concentrate,affects an individual’s ability to control a vehicle, less reaction time.This results in license suspension or revocation of the drive, legal punishment in jail, impoundment of the vehicle, license plate confiscation, alcohol abuse evaluations, and many more

Conclusion

In 2018 more than 2800 people died due to distracted driving in our country. There are a lot of different scenarios which are out of our control especially in terms of distracted driving. The next big problem after an accident due to distraction is high car insurance rates. If you are looking for an affordable company to get your car insurance then we have an expert team for you. Get in touch with RateForce today to get the list of all the top car insurance companies in your city along with their average policy rates based on your profile.

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SOURCES

  • Referred to the website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to check the number of deaths due to distracted driving on 22 January 2022.
  • Checked the article by VT.news to understand crashes occur due to inattentive drivers on 22nd January 2022.
  • Read the article on NSCL.ORG to check how many states have banned the usage of mobile phones while driving on 22 January 2022.
  • Referred to News in Health website to check the impact of distracted driving on teen drivers on 22 January 2022.
  • Checked the article written on the website of AAA; to see how many drivers admit they indulge in distracted driving on 22 January 2022.
  • Referred to the article written on the VTTI website about the drivers who try to put on makeup while driving on 22 January 2022.
  • Read a study by NHTSA about the number of drivers found holding phones to their ears in the daytime on 22 January 2022.
  • Referred to an article by the National Safety Council about the risk of hands-free devices while driving on 22 January 2022.
  • Checked another study by VTTI to understand the impact of distractions from a passenger to the driver on 22 January 2022.
  • Ready an article by Consumer Reports Organization; about the number of new cars with the latest infotainment features on 22 January 2022.
  • Refereed to another article by AAA; to check the preference of pet parents while driving with their dogs on 22 January 2022.

Editorial Guidelines: The above is meant as general information to help you understand the different aspects of auto insurance. This information does not refer to any specific auto insurance policy. Coverages and other features vary between insurers, vary by state, and are not available in all states. References to costs of coverages/repair, average or typical premiums, amounts of losses, deductibles, etc., are indicative and may not apply to your situation. We encourage you to speak to our insurance representative and to read your policy contract to fully understand your coverages.

Randy Luton is the Founder and CEO of RateForce. He is passionate about InsurTech services and has in-depth knowledge about the auto insurance sector of the USA.