Distracted Driving Poses Serious Risk of Accidents in Both U.S. and Canada: Reports Show

Nearly all respondents of a recent survey admitted to distracted driving, with one in six ending up in an auto accident.

A new study finds that almost all individuals treated at fracture clinics in Canada admit to having driven while distracted by cell phones and other forms of distracted driving, increasing their risk of being in an auto accident, mirroring findings of similar reports issued in the United States.

Canadian researchers conducted a survey that highlights the widespread problem of distracted driving, with 99.7% of respondents admitting to having engaged in some form of driving a motor vehicle while subject to major distractions. The findings were published in the June issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

The survey provided anonymous questionnaires to 1,378 Canadians receiving treatment in four fracture clinics. A small percentage of them (approximately 12%) were suffering from auto accident-related injuries. The questions covered their driving habits, the different distracted driving activities, and if any of these activities had caused their recent injuries.

Of those surveyed, only 0.3% indicated that they did not drive distracted. The remaining 99.7% admitted to engaging in distracted driving activities from talking to passengers to answering phone calls on a mobile device. Other distractions cited included listening to the radio (97.6%), adjusting the radio (93.8%), and even daydreaming (61.2%). A large number of those surveyed (98.25%) also admitted to engaging in distractions specifically related to the use of mobile phones such as accepting phone calls and reading and sending electronic messages.

“This survey-based study showed that driving distractions were near universally acknowledged. The pervasiveness of distractions held true even when only the more dangerous distractions were considered,” the researchers concluded. “One in 6 patients in MVCs (motor vehicle crashes) reported being distracted in their current crash, and 1 in 3 patients disclosed being distracted in an MVC during their lifetime.”

In the U.S., the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released a report that highlights similar problems in this country, and presents strategies and practices to combat distracted driving. Though unrelated to the Canadian survey, the GHSA report does offer recommendations to deal with the distracted driving habits and activities the survey reveals.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2020 alone, 3,142 people died in U.S. distraction-related crashes. It is believed that more than 400,000 people are injured in distracted driving accidents on U.S. roads and highways every year.

The recommendations provided in the 50-page GHSA report, Directing Drivers’ Attention: A State Highway Safety Office Roadmap for Combating Distracted Driving are geared toward helping the State Highway Safety Offices and their partners combat this widespread, deadly driving behavior that continues to plague the country’s roads and highways.

The full report outlines 29 recommendations to combat the many factors that affect distracted driving. Some of those key areas include state laws and law enforcement, education and public outreach, and data collection.

The specific recommendations touch on investing heavily in efforts to change distracted driving traffic safety culture, particularly where it comes to youth outreach and education. The report also discusses encouraging leadership at the federal, state, and local levels to prioritize distracted driving as a safety challenge.

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