Seven reasons cell phones kill people on road trips

Even though Thanksgiving is behind us, there are still plenty of reasons to road trip before the end of the year. Well, there’s one reason, really, and that’s Christmas. But, a lot of people are going to get behind the wheel or whine in the back seat. Of course, we can expect a lot of people to be on their cell phones while they’re driving about, according to the Insurance Information Institute’s blog.

Do the math on this: cell phone + car + stupidity = dead people

It really is that simple, but there are some reasons for this equation. In fact, even though I go over seven of them here, the Insurance Information Institute has pulled together an impressive list of distracted driving statistics and insights, and I just lost interest in making the list any longer than it already is (so I suggest you take a peek over on the institute’s blog) … but check out my stuff first:1. Distracted driving: the number of people killed in distracted driving incidents is up a whopping 22 percent from 2005 to 2009. Fortunately, not as many people seem to be dying from cell phone-impeded driving in the recent past, though.. The Department of Transportation reported a 6 percent decline in distracted driving deaths in 2009, which means people are either doing it less or have gotten better at it.

Of course, traffic crashes declined slightly overall for that period, which means the share of them belonging to distracted drivers actually increased. So, there’s no way to rationalize yourself out of this one: stay off the damned phone while you’re driving.

2. Leading cause: cell phones are the top reason for distracted driving, with a variety of perspectives considered. For the future though, texting appears to be the next big killer.

3. Texted to death: 18 percent of drivers in the United State have done it in the past 30 days, according to a recent study by the Insurance Research Council. Drivers 25 to 39 are most likely to be guilty: 41 percent of them copped to it, compared to only 31 percent of drivers 16 to 24.

4. Banning it does nothing: the Highway Loss Data Institute “found that texting bans may not reduce crashes,” writes the Insurance Information Institute. Collisions actually increased slightly in three of the four states examined (but the change was not statistically significant).

5. Complacency: teens are more ready to blame drunk driving than texting for traffic accident fatalities. According to the Insurance Information Institute: “The survey seems to indicates that despite public awareness campaigns about the dangers of distracted driving many teens still do not understand the risk.”

6. Hypocrisy: even though 62 percent of AAA Foundation for Safety survey respondents feel that cell phone use while driving is “a serious safety threat,” close to 70 percent admitted to talking on their phones. Twenty-four percent read or sent text messages.

7. Teenagers are stupid: while 84 percent said in a Seventeen magazine survey said “they were aware that distracted driving increased the risk of a crash,” writes the Insurance Information Institute, 86 percent engaged in distracted driving behavior related to a cell phone.

[photo by inhisgrace via Flickr]

Five sleepy driving stats to scare you for Thanksgiving

Are you heading over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving this year? Well, you better stop for coffee along the way! A new study by AAA finds there’s a pretty big number of sleepy drivers out there. Think about every 10 cars around you: there’s a good chance at least one of those driver’s has dozed off behind the wheel. So, how bad is the problem? Let’s take a look at five sleepy driving statistics that will make you open your eyes wide.

1. Recent risk: 10 percent of drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year

2. Long-term confessions: 41 percent of respondents admit that they’ve done so at least some point in their lives

3. We’re all hypocrites: a whopping 85 percent of drivers find it “completely unacceptable, writes Insurance Networking News, “to drive if someone is so tired that they struggle to keep their eyes open”

4. Crashes are common: according to a new analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, 12.5 percent of crashes leading to hospitalization were caused by fatigued drivers

5. Death is a serious possibility:
16.5 percent of deadly crashes involve drivers too drowsy to belong behind the wheel, also from the analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data

All of this is utterly preventable. Be smart, and know your limits.

[photo by marcn via Flickr]