Study Finds Driver Distraction Even More Dangerous Than Expected

According to the 100-Car Naturalist Driving Study, which tracked the behavior of the drivers of 100 vehicles for a year, driver inattention is an even more dangerous problem than expects previously believed. Almost 80% of car crashes and 65% of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention, which includes not only distractions but also fatigue.

The study found that the most common distraction for drivers is the use of cell phones. However, the number of auto accidents and near-accidents related to dialing a cell phone is almost identical to the number associated with talking or listening on a cell phone. Younger drivers also had a higher incidence of distraction. Research found that the rate of distraction among 18- to 20-year-old drivers was four times higher than drivers age 35 and older.

Massachusetts and five other states have banned drivers from talking on a hand-held cell phone, but no state has banned the use of hands-free devices, despite the fact that the NHTSA has found that the car accident risk is comparable to that of regular cell phones.

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute are preparing for a nationwide study involving over 2,500 vehicles, which will give the researchers a wider understanding of different drivers in different environments.

DWD – driving while dialing – among top driver distractions, study finds, Dayton Daily News, March 23, 2009
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