Pokemon Go recently took the world by storm, and now people are seeing a Caterpie to the left, a Weedle straight ahead and a Pichachu lurking somewhere to the right. Which to capture first? For a driver, the time it takes to make that decision and click on the critter may mean a car accident or death.
That's because trapping a Pokemon Go creature requires a driver's cognitive, visual and manual attention, and not using all of those faculties while behind the wheel causes tens of thousands of accidents every year.
Distracted driving refers to any activity that shifts your focus away from the task of driving. Some examples of distracted driving include:
- Playing Pokemon Go
- Sending or reading texts and emails
- Eating food or drinking
- Reading a newspaper, book or map
- Talking to someone else
- Putting on makeup, brushing hair or flossing teeth
- Adjusting the music
While you may be familiar with the term distracted driving, here are three interesting things you may not know.
1) The numbers really are staggering.
In 2014 alone, distracted driving was linked to 3.179 deaths and 431,000 vehicle-related injuries in the United States. In 2012, the number of deaths was even higher: 3,328. In 2013, approximately one in every five car accidents resulted from distracted driving. Meanwhile, one in every four car crashes in the United States stems from texting and driving.
2) The temptation of cell phones is astonishing.
Sending a text diverts a driver's eyes from the road for approximately five seconds. If traveling at 55 miles per hour, five seconds is enough time to cover a football field -- and the driver is essentially blind while driving and texting simultaneously. Knowing this, it may seem shocking that at any given time on any given day, an estimated 660,000 drivers are trying to use their phones while operating a vehicle. Not so surprisingly, cellphone use while driving results in 1.6 million car crashes every year, according to The National Safety Council.
3) Age may matter.
Naturally, the rate of accidents among inexperienced drivers is higher than that of people who have at least several years of driving experience in their background. However, 10 percent of all drivers aged 15 to 19 who were involved in a fatal car accident reported being distracted at the time of the crash. This number represents the largest proportion of distracted drivers among all age groups.
The most effective way to combat distracted driving is to educate people. For more on these matters, please see Dodds, Kidd & Ryan's overview of accidents caused by texting while driving.