Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Any distraction endangers driver, passenger, and bystander safety. Although driving distracted encompasses a variety of activities, cell phone use is among the most dangerous because the behavior involves taking a driver’s hands off the wheel (manual distraction), eyes off the road (visual distraction), and mind off of driving (cognitive distraction).
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Distracted driving joins alcohol and speeding as a leading cause of injury and fatality collisions in the United States.
In 2015, there were 3,477 distracted driving-affected deaths and an estimated 391,000 distracted-affected injuries nationwide.
Cell phone use while driving increases crash risk approximately four times when talking and at least eight times when texting.
In a driving simulator study, drivers using cell phones had reaction times slower than drivers impaired by alcohol at a .08 blood alcohol concentration, the legal intoxication limit.
Effective January 1, 2017, California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5 it is illegal to hold and operate a handheld electronic wireless communications device, such as a cell phone, while behind the wheel.
Across the country, many states have implemented bans on phones and texting:
GHSA.org has a current listing of laws for each state
Electronic Wireless Communications Device: Prohibited Use (California Motor Vehicle Code 23123.5)
School Bus or Transit Vehicle Drivers: Prohibition Against Use of Wireless Telephone (California Motor Vehicle Code 23125)
Cell phone use is like an addiction – people know it is dangerous, but can’t resist the behavior. Before starting a trip, reduce the temptation to use your phone while driving by adopting some of these practices:
How you can influence others:
Click on the flyer for a list of cell phone apps:
TREDS has conducted studies of distracted driving behaviors to develop interventions and recommend policies to reduce distracted driving.
A review of the literature with summaries of distracted driving research conducted nationally can be found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council websites.
In an effort to reduce injuries and fatalities resulting from distracted driving, TREDS partners with the California Highway Patrol to offer a free one-hour class for companies and organizations throughout California. The class, “Just Drive – Take Action Against Distraction,” is designed to increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and encourage participants to be safe and responsible drivers, both on and off the job. The curriculum focuses primarily on cell phone use while driving, addressing the consequences of distracted driving for the individual, their family, their workplace and society.
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