The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Driving While Distracted is Common

August 11, 2003

According to a report by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly all drivers get distracted sometime while behind the wheel, and the culprits are more than just cell phones. The study cited reaching for something inside the car and fiddling with the audio system as the primary causes of driver distraction. The study, conducted from 2001 to 2002 by researchers at the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill, NC, and by Philadelphia traffic research consultants TransAnalytics. The researchers used small windshield-mounted cameras to videotape 70 volunteers from Chapel Hill and Philadelphia while they were driving their own cars. Results showed that more than 97 percent of the drivers leaned over or reached for something inside the car, while more than 91 percent adjusted the controls of the audio system. More than 75 percent carried on conversations, and more than 71 percent ate or drank while they were behind the wheel. The study showed that excluding talking to passengers, drivers engaged in a potentially distracting activity more than 16 percent of the time their cars were moving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, inattentive drivers account for up to 30 percent of police-reported traffic accidents per year.
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