|Distractions Cause Crashes|
Highway deaths were up in 2005 for the first time in 19 years. One reason for that, according to a study by the government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is probably no surprise: distracted drivers. Distractions have always been an issue, but the new technologies that have burst on the scene have multiplied the problem.
"Drivers talk on their cellphones. Check their e-mail or send text messages. Get directions from their GPS system. Pop a CD into their stereo. Change stations on satellite radio. Help their kids with the backseat DVD player."
The study—which tracked hundreds of drivers in the Washington, D.C., area for over a year, and used sensor monitors to gather video and data about their behavior in the vehicles—"found that eight of 10 collisions or near-crashes involved a lack of attention from drivers" just before impact.
The study found that "A driver's reaching for a moving object increased the risk" of a wreck nine times. Dialing a cellphone increased the risk of a wreck almost 3 times. Drowsy driving increased the likelihood of a wreck or near-wreck 4 to 6 times. Distractions cause crashes.
Reference: Ken Thomas, Associated Press, "Study links distractions to crashes," The Arizona Republic (4-21-06)