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Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can increase the chance of a vehicle crash.

Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. 

There are three main types of distraction: 

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road.

  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel.

  • Cognitive: taking your mind off what you are doing.

Crashes due to driver distraction are increasing in the United States — distraction is taking more lives and injuring more people than ever before.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
reported in 2010 that 18 percent of crashes with
someone injured involved distracted driving.

Technology is increasing the problem of inattentive driving in the region. Smartphones, CD players, DVD players, mobile wifi, navigation systems and computers continue to pose new questions about what can be used during the safe operation of a vehicle.

Driver distraction is nothing new. More than 70 years ago, lawmakers pondered whether radios should be allowed in cars. Today, the problem has become more high tech. In June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the U.S., up nearly 50 percent from June 2009.

The issue in the Kansas City region

During the five year between 2010 and 2014  a total of 128 highway-related fatalities were associated with distracted driving in the Destination Safe region. This is roughly 12.8 percent of all roadway fatalities.

Five-year distracted driving fatalities in the Kansas City region:

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Fatalities involving distracted driving 36 23 28 25 16
Total fatalities 211 182 229 200 176

Distracted Driver Pilot Survey

Between 2007 and 2011, 184 people lost their lives and another 2,016 sustained severe enough injures to require transport to a hospital. No one — regardless of age — is immune to the dangers of distracted driving.

To better understand the prevalence of distracted driving in our region, the Missouri Safety Center conducted a Distracted Driving Pilot Survey in 2012, in Jackson and Johnson counties in Missouri. The survey’s purpose was to collect direct observational data on distracted driving behavior, such as cell phone use, texting, “other” distractions or no distractions. A total of 6,438 drivers were observed; 85 percent of all drivers observed had no distraction while 15 percent had an exhibited distraction of some type.

View the full survey report here.

What you can do:

  • Before you drive, remove or secure any loose articles (cans, bottles, books) that could roll around or fly toward you in the event of a quick stop.

  • Why complicate your life by multitasking while driving? Slow down, stay alert and enjoy your drive.

  • Do not talk on a cell phone while driving. If absolutely necessary, use a hands-free device or pull over in a well-lit area to continue a conversation. Some states restrict the use of cell phones while driving to only hands-free devices and emergency instances.

  • Limit your changing of radio stations and CDs. It only takes a brief moment for your eyes to be off the road to cause a collision.

  • Although entertainment devices such DVD players and electronic games can be enjoyed by passengers in the vehicle, as a driver, do not become distracted by these devices. Lower their volumes and never try to watch these devices or tinker with them while driving.

  • Don’t light a cigarette while driving. If you drop it, look out!

  • Eating and drinking beverages while driving can be dangerous. Simply stop and eat at a restaurant or rest area. If you spill a drink, pull over to clean up the mess. Driving while trying to clean coffee off your pants can be a deadly combination.

  • You have a responsibility to operate your vehicle in a safe manner.

  • Always buckle up. 

For more information about distracted driving and the associated dangers, visit: