Federal Study Reveals Most Dangerous Driving Distractions

We’ve all been guilty of it at some point — fiddling with the radio while we change lanes, taking our eyes off the road to gaze at the passing scenery. Even professional drivers aren’t perfect. Distractions happen, and sometimes they can be deadly. Recently, the U.S. Congress funded the Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study (SHRP 2 NDS) to find out just how dangerous distracted driving is. The study was conducted by scientists from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Rather than using a controlled testing environment, data was collected from 3,500 volunteer drivers over a three year period travelling in real-world conditions. The volunteers’ vehicles were outfitted with a series of radar units, cameras and sensors that allowed the researchers to record and analyze their driving behavior. By the end of the study, the participants had been involved in more than 1600 incidents. The researchers assessed accident causation based on a number of factors including speed, fatigue, sobriety and distraction. After analyzing the data, the research team concluded that distracted driving was nearly as dangerous as drunk driving. But Which Distractions Were the Most Dangerous? Some distractions that the researchers expected to be particularly dangerous were actually fairly uncommon. These included things like applying makeup while driving, and interacting with children in the back seat. In fact, the researchers found that people tended to drive more carefully with children in the car. Other well-known distractions – texting while driving, for example – were found to be very dangerous. Generally, […]