The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

80% of Accidents Caused by Distracted Motorists

April 25, 2006

BLACKSBURG, VA – According to a new study, eight in 10 U.S. accidents are caused by distracted drivers, according to the Detroit News. A $4.2-million study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute tracked more than 200 drivers for more than a year, using cameras to monitor their behavior behind the wheel. The study revealed that distractions contributed to 80 percent of crashes. In the Virginia Tech study, 241 drivers, ranging in age from 18 to 73, were monitored over a 13-month period and drove a total of 42,000 hours in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C.-area, according to the report. Some of the drivers were monitored drinking beer, smoking marijuana while at the wheel, engaging in road rage incidents, and routinely violating traffic laws. Researchers used onboard computers, radar, global positioning systems, and five cameras placed inside and outside the vehicles. Some study results include:

  • About 7.5 percent of the drivers monitored had several accidents during the test period.
  • Young drivers were four times more likely to be involved in a crash.
  • Drowsiness was a contributing factor in at least 22 percent of the accidents.
  • Inattention was almost universally the cause of all rear-end collisions monitored.
  • About 65 percent of near-crashes resulted from driver inattention in the three seconds before the event.
  • Reaching for a moving object made drivers nine times more likely to be in a crash or near-crash.
  • Putting makeup on makes drivers three times more likely to be in accident.
  • Finding a CD or putting it in the player more than doubled the risk of an accident.
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