According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 people die due to distracted driving every day. More than 1,000 people are injured daily in such accidents, says the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration. While historically it has been largely attributed to texting and phone calls, the last few years have been dominated by a new cause: social media. With End Distracted Driving launching petitions to tackle social media use while driving, revelations on just how much of a role social media is playing in the rise of distracted driving continue to come to light. Research has also revealed that teen and younger drivers are more likely to be using social media while driving. For these fairly new drivers, driving while distracted not only exposes them (and others) to bodily harm but can also lead to long-term financial consequences like roadblocks in getting affordable car insurance. If you are a parent or young driver on the roadways, changing these statistics starts with educating yourself- on the dangers of using social media while driving, the potential consequences, and the simple driving behaviors that prevent distracted driving.
Why Social Media Can Contribute To Distracted Driving
A past study by AT&T found that more than 90 percent of drivers use a smartphone while driving and a stunning 50 percent use social media. Other research by the Virginia Tech Institute found that sending or receiving a text message while driving can mean you take your eyes off of the road for an average of 4.6 seconds.
For drivers that are on social media, that time extends considerably. According to the Transport Research Laboratory, drivers using social media saw that their reaction times slowed 38 percent. That is over 3 times the impact when measured against someone who is driving after drinking. In the end, the use of social media when driving can cause visual, manual, and cognitive distracted driving- 3 of the listed types of distracted driving listed by the CDC.
Educating Yourself On The Consequences Of Distracted Driving
In recent years, the number of car accidents caused by social media use has been skyrocketing. More than 50 percent of teen crashes are caused by distracted driving. Unfortunately, only 16 states currently ban mobile phone usage while driving, so it is largely left up to a driver’s judgment to navigate the dangers of driving while distracted.
The cellphone ban also varies by state, so it is best to check with your individual state legislation. For instance, in Florida, the handheld ban only extends to school work zones. Along with the safety consequences that using social media can cause, there can also be legal ramifications. In the past year, we have seen more lawsuits being filed after vlogging accidents. In some states like Texas, those involved in a vlogger accident while driving can also face a penalty fine between $200 and $500. Other states like Washington and Georgia have passed legislation banning streaming while driving. Around 12 percent of participants in the AT&T survey admitted to shooting videos behind the wheel.
Start With Prevention
It can be easy to think you can easily shoot videos and browse social media while driving. However, the best way to avoid incidents of distracted driving is to educate teen drivers before they get behind the wheel. Educating teens on distraction-free driving- and what it entails- is the best way to prepare them. Even if you are driving in a state that allows calls while driving, try to limit your conversations while behind the wheel. The same applies to the use of hands-free devices as they can distract your attention from the road.
Finally, it is also a good idea to enroll yourself or your teen in a defensive driving course. They are great for helping you improve your auto insurance rates, remove points from your licenses, and provide handy techniques like the 3-4 second rule when establishing your following distance when driving. Taking small but significant steps like this can drastically improve your chances as a driver on the roadways, and tackle the brewing issue that is social media behind the wheels.