Distracted Driving a Bigger Risk than Drunk Driving

A new report shows that drivers—distracted by their smartphones are now the biggest threat to safety—ahead of drunk drivers. The road analytics firm Zendrive released the report earlier this month. It’s especially timely, because April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

The report analyzed three million anonymous drivers over a three-month period. It found

Scary Statistics

  • On average, drivers use their phone 88 out of every 100
  • More than 6,200 pedestrians were killed by drivers, most likely distracted by their smartphones in 2018.
  • On a national level, drivers are 10% more distracted than last year
  • Taking your eyes off the road for 2 seconds increases your chance of a crash by 20
  • At 55 mph, 2 seconds is enough time to travel the length of 2 basketball courts.

Chris Teale, in SmartCitiesDive, reviewed the report, and came to some interesting conclusions.

“As the rate of traffic deaths continue to climb in the United States, cities have had to wrestle with questions over how they can redesign streets to more effectively accommodate pedestrians, while initiatives such as Vision Zero have also given them plenty to think about as they try and stamp out road deaths. But this report highlights one area that will be hard to change: human behavior, especially the desire to be connected at all times, even when behind the wheel.”

Zendrive’s report ultimately concluded there are more distracted drivers on the road, and they’re distracted more of the time—resulting in a greater risk than drunk drivers. In other words, you’re more likely to get hit by a distracted driver than a drunk one.

One way Best Foot Forward seeks to make the streets safer for pedestrians is by focusing on driver behavior. It’s the “Enforcement” end of our Triple E approach.

During Operation BFF, we team with cities, counties and local law enforcement to choose a number of dangerous, marked crosswalks. A plainclothes deputy or officer will walk across the crosswalk, making sure to give drivers plenty of time to stop. If they drive through the crosswalk, putting the “pedestrian” in danger, they get at least a $164 citation and three points on their license. This includes, if that driver didn’t see the pedestrian because he or she was distracted by a phone.

“Education” and low-cost “Engineering” are the other two means by which we work to make the roads safer for both pedestrians and drivers. City and county governments across Central Florida have adopted a Complete Streets program for smart design, and Orlando has an action plan task force team for their Vision Zero mission—to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries within the city by 2040.

Best Foot Forward supports the U.S. Transportation Department in encouraging drivers to put their phones away! Pay attention and keep your eyes on the road. And always yield for pedestrians.

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