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Laws of Distraction: Scary Stats About Distracted Driving

Efforts to pass a texting ban for Oklahoma drivers fail to gain traction in Legislature due to lack of support from one key lawmaker.
By AAA Oklahoma Modified: April 2, 2013 at 4:51 pm •  Published: April 2, 2013
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AAA Oklahoma, April 2, 2013 Drivers who change a radio station, talk to kids in the back seat or take a sip of soda all have something in common: Their attention is being taken off the road. To call attention to this dangerous habit, this month AAA observes Distracted Driving Awareness Month alongside the National Safety Council.

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a person’s attention away from the task of driving and includes texting; using a cell phone; eating and drinking; talking to passengers; grooming; reading; using a navigation system; adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player.

“In 2011, more than 3,300 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in crashes that involved a distracted driver,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “As an advocate for the safety of the driving public, AAA urges motorists to voluntarily stop this dangerous and often deadly behavior.”

 

Just last night, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports a 17-year-old youth from Locust Grove was killed when the Jeep he was riding in went off a county road and struck a tree. Troopers say the cause of the crash was driver inattention.

AAA notes some scary statistics on distracted driving:

  • Banning together: More than nine in 10 (92 percent) of AAA members support a statewide ban on texting for all drivers. Nearly three out of four (72 percent) of AAA members support a ban on the use of all hand-held and hands-free cell phones while driving except for in emergency situations.
  • Text study: According to CTIA The Wireless Association®, a trade association representing the wireless communications industry, 18 percent of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. In June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the U.S., up nearly 50 percent from June 2009.
  • Distracted drivers: Pew research notes that 11 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to be distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted. Additionally, 40 percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.
  • Hands-free, baby: Research from Monash University showed that drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
  • Scary statistic: According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent ­ at 55 mph ­ of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
  • Ban on the run: Oklahoma is one of just a few states without a statewide ban on texting behind the wheel, despite repeated attempts by the Oklahoma Legislature to pass such a bill. “It’s unfortunate that one key lawmaker, in this case House Speaker T.W. Shannon, can stand in the way of a very popular drive to outlaw texting by Oklahoma drivers,” said Mai. “Thirty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and Guam now ban text messaging by all drivers. Twelve of these laws were enacted in 2010 alone.”

 

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