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Driver Disconnect: We Know Distracted Driving Is Dangerous But Still Do It

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As society’s addiction to mobile devices only grows, driver attention behind the wheel has continued to wither and — unsurprisingly — the crash fatality numbers continue to pile up. Driver distraction was a contributing factor in 3,166 road deaths in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

What is surprising is that most people know it’s dangerous, but they do it anyway, says a new study from Travelers Insurance. In the agency’s survey of 1,000 customers, 77 percent of drivers admitted to making calls while driving, 44 percent send texts or emails, and 31 percent said they’ve had a near miss because of being distracted. However, more than half of those surveyed said they would stop driving distracted if asked by a passenger — but 19 percent said they’d still do it even if it were against the law.

Related: Look Alive! Awareness Is Key to Curbing Distracted Driving Deaths

Smartphones aren’t the only problem, however, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety warns that there’re many other things that pull drivers’ focus from the roads.

“When people talk about distracted driving, most often, cellphones are the focus, but drivers are distracted by other secondary behaviors more often than cellphones,” senior research scientist David Kidd said in a statement. “Things as simple as drinking coffee or talking to your kids can take your attention away from the road.”

As April has been designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and precedes the busy warm-weather road-trip season, now’s as good a time as any to learn more about the dangers of distracted driving and how to avoid them.

Info and Advice

Catch up on all of our latest distracted-driving coverage here:

Take the Pledge

The National Safety Council also encourages drivers to take their safe-driving pledge:

I pledge to just drive for my own safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose to not drive distracted in any way — I will not:

  • Have a phone conversation — handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
  • Text or send Snapchats
  • Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
  • Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo or other social media
  • Check or send emails
  • Take selfies or film videos
  • Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
  • Call or message someone else when I know they are driving

Sign the pledge here.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Jennifer Geiger
News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

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