What Is The Worst Driver Distraction?

LCT Magazine
Posted on December 8, 2009
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA — A new peril is taking center stage in the quest to keep our roads safe. Sending text messages while driving has become surprisingly common. And researchers say it represents a much greater risk to drivers than other distractions.
A study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that drivers who send text messages while behind the wheel are 23.2 times more likely to risk a crash or near crash event than non-distracted drivers.
Many drivers know the risks of texting while driving — and do it anyway. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published polling data that show that 87% of people consider drivers texting or e-mailing to pose a "very serious" safety threat (roughly equal to the 90% who consider drunken drivers a threat).
Of the 2,501 drivers surveyed, 95% said that texting was unacceptable behavior. Yet 21% of drivers said they had recently texted or e-mailed while driving. About half of drivers 16 to 24 said they had texted while driving, compared with 22% of drivers 35 to 44.
"Texting is becoming more and more popular and it seems like most people 25-years old and younger text more than talk on a phone. The age of the texter compounds the danger since these younger people have less experience driving," said David Lapps, president of Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting.
"My advice is to never text while driving. I don't want any customers to be injured by someone driving and texting. There's nothing that important that you cannot pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot to send a text if you need to."
Besides texting, talking on a cell phone also poses dangers. Several studies show that these drivers are four times more likely to cause a crash. And a previous Virginia institute study found that these drivers were three times more likely to crash or come close to a crash when dialing a phone and 1.3 times more likely when talking on it.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, while an additional half a million people were injured in such collisions. The organization found that on any given day in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.
"Whether you're faced with damage from a minor fender bender or a major accident, getting your car back to its original state is a priority. The best way to get top quality repairs is to use a shop that's been highly rated by its customers," said Lapps. "The 475 Maaco centers repair and paint 600,000 vehicles a year, most of them for repeat and referral customers."
For more information, please contact your local Maaco body shop or visit www.maaco.com.

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