Statistics are important to understanding large trends and concepts. But to most people, statistics don’t have much impact if they are not presented in a relevant and easy-to-grasp context. Perhaps this is why many Americans continue to engage in distracted driving despite data showing it to be dangerous and deadly.
According to data cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,331 people died on U.S. roads in 2011 in car accidents caused by distracted driving. That same year, distracted driving accidents were responsible for another 387,000 injuries. These are large figures, but they may still seem abstract. To put it another way, distracted driving is responsible for nine deaths and 1,060 injuries every single day in the United States.
This is according to a report issued by the CDC last month. To break the data down even further, 44 people are injured in distracted driving accidents every hour, and one person is killed as a result of this dangerous behavior every 2.6 hours.
Several activities can be considered distracting when performed while driving, including eating and interacting with navigational equipment like GPS. But the CDC report notes that “texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction [visual, mental and manual].”
At this point, none of us can claim to be ignorant of the fact that distracted driving is dangerous. The data is clear. We are left, then, with just two choices: to either set aside our distractions and pay attention to the road or to add to the injury and fatality statistics we previously ignored.
Source: The Washington Post, “Distracted driving: 9 die, 1,060 hurt each day, CDC says,” Ashley Halsey III, Feb. 24, 2014