New technology is causing drivers to become more distracted behind the wheel.
According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), the rate of smartphone ownership doubled from 2011 to 2018. Today, there are over 400 million mobile devices in the United States or 1.2 devices per person.
According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of all Americans own a mobile phone of some kind and 77% of Americans own smartphones.
Because of the widespread adoption of smartphones, our consumption of wireless data grew 40 times between 2010 and 2017, setting a record for consumer demand.
Although Americans first used mobile phones to make calls, or send and receive text messages, now they’re using them for web browsing, shopping, accessing social media and streaming videos – sometimes while driving. The mobile phone has become so important to Americans that many say they would choose it over coffee, dating, chocolate or beer (CTIA survey).
Most drivers acknowledge that driving distracted by technology is dangerous, but many do it any way.
About 88% of drivers surveyed by The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2017 said distracted driving is a bigger problem today than three years ago.
However, many drivers said they still use technology while driving. According to an online survey from AT&T’s It Can Wait program, 81% of people said they text while driving, while 60% said they email and 50% access social media.
According to the 2015 National Survey on Distracted Driving conducted by NHTSA, about four in 10 (42%) drivers report answering their mobile phones when driving at least some of the time.
AT&T’s It Can Wait program research also found more than one-third of drivers call distracted driving a habit. It has become so common that nearly a quarter of people don’t see it as a major problem. But it is a problem.
Multiple studies show that distracted driving significantly increases the risk of a crash. For example, a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that engaging in visual-manual tasks, such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting with a hand-held or portable device, tripled the risk of a crash.
Drivers also suffer from “inattention blindness.” Talking on a mobile phone while driving has been shown to divert one-third of the brain’s processing power away from driving. As a result, drivers may be looking at the road but failing to see and process 50% of the driving environment, which endangers other people.
Information obtained from Ohio Distracted Driving Task Force Report (April 2019)