The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road. The CDC states that there are three main types of distracted driving.
- Visual: Taking eyes off the road
- Manual: Taking hands off the steering wheel
- Cognitive: Taking mind off driving
This means talking on the phone, texting, eating, changing the music, or being on the phone while driving is considered distracted driving. Today, drivers are faced with more distractions than ever. Thanks to cellular data giving phones internet capabilities when not connected to WiFi, drivers can do a lot more than just texting and driving. Texting and driving used to be considered the most dangerous thing a driver could do while on the road, but now social media is taking texting’s place.
The New “Texting and Driving”
The use of social media is very prominent in many people’s lives, especially with younger and newer drivers. Using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter while driving can be very dangerous for the driver, and all others on the road. However, this seems to be the newest trend; people are texting and driving less, but using their smartphone to browse social media more. Drivers might see an Instagram notification populate on their phone, and even glancing down quickly to see that could be disastrous.
Social Media and Driving
Because social media is now so heavily integrated into young peoples’ livelihoods, one might argue that social media poses an even greater threat to attentive driving than do other common distractions on the road.The age to get a license is 16, and these younger drivers use social media platforms to interact with their friends. A new driver might post on Twitter complaining about traffic, and while they might think their actions are harmless it could affect everyone around them.
Additionally, scrolling through social media is not a quick task. When compared to texting, social media is a much more time consuming activity, meaning that the driver is going to be looking away from the road much longer and more frequently.
Distracting Driving Impacts All Drivers
On average, 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured as a result of distracted driving every day. When a driver is not focused, the chance of a crash increases. Distracted drivers also affect everyone — it is not just the distracted driver at risk. Not fully paying attention while driving puts all other surrounding individuals in danger.
“Using social media while driving can be three times more dangerous than drinking and driving. According to research conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory and the Institute of Advanced Motorist, the reaction time of a driver is slowed by 38% while using their smartphone, as opposed to the 12% of someone who has been drinking” (Source: TexasArriveAlive.com).
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted a study regarding distracted driving and found that, on average, when a driver checks their phone, their eyes are taken off the road for 4.6 seconds. While 4.6 seconds does not sound like a long amount of time, if a driver is going 55mph, 4.6 seconds of driving is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field. Now, if that driver is browsing social media, they are going to be looking at their phone for much longer than 4.6 seconds. Drivers who are distracted by social media or otherwise are a danger to themselves, other drivers, and pedestrians.
Those at Risk for Engaging in Distracted Driving
People under the age of 20 have the largest proportion of fatal crashes that are related to distracted driving. Distracted driving accounted for 9% of all teen motor vehicle crash deaths in 2017. Younger drivers are already inexperienced and by bringing in outside distractions such as cellphones, they are more likely to be more distracted.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving
While social media can be the biggest distraction, there are ways to prevent becoming distracted. The easiest way to prevent using social media while driving is to put the phone in the backseat or in a purse, or even turn it off. While driving, the driver should only be focused on the road. Deliberately removing the easy accessibility of the phone will likely prevent and deter distracted driving.
On the other hand, there is always the possibility of injury due to the negligence and recklessness of another distracted driver nearby. If you find yourself in one of these instances, be sure to call an experienced attorney to discuss options and how to proceed.