6 Common Causes of Distracted Driving in Pennsylvania

6 Common Causes of Distracted Driving in Pennsylvania

Nearly every American adult spends some part of his or her day driving. The daily task is such a mundane one that most people fail to think of the potential risk they take any time they get behind the wheel of a car, even in Pennsylvania. But car insurance companies are well aware of the danger associated with driving, and the danger is reflected in ever-increasing insurance premiums. 

However, potential threats aren’t only on the outside of the vehicle. In fact, a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicated that there are a number of in-vehicle “cognitive distractions” that range in severity from little ability to alter focus to the capacity to cause grave danger. The study also found that some of the technological advances that were designed to increase driver safety have actually failed to do some. The following include some of the most significant distractions the AAA studied as well as the rank of each in terms of distractibility.

To accurately assess each distraction’s ability to alter the focus of the driver, the participants were asked to perform each task in three different settings, including when not driving, when in a simulated driving setting, and when driving in a real-world situation. The study looked at a number of different measures, including break reaction time, following distance, and brainwave activity to determine the level of distraction. The results follow.

1. Listening to the Radio

Participants were asked to adjust the radio to a comfortable volume and then were asked not to change the station or make any adjustments while driving. The study found that listening to the radio does not significantly distract a driver whether humming along to a catchy tune or listening to the latest news.

2. Listening to an Audiobook

After listening to the radio, participants were asked to select a passage from one of three audiobooks to listen to while driving. While the study revealed that becoming engrossed in an audiobook resulted in slightly higher distractibility, it was still not significant enough to warrant alarm.

3. Conversing with a Passenger

Another section of the test assessed the drivers’ distraction levels when conversing with a passenger. This assessment showed a significant increase in distraction, raising the drivers’ distraction levels halfway between activities that were not distracting at all and those that were severely distracting.

4. Using a Cellphone

Auto safety advocates as well as insurance companies and others have identified cellphone use as a distraction for years. This study only supported that claim, showing that talking on a hand-held phone resulted in significantly elevated levels of distraction.

5. Using Hands-Free Technology

Hands-free technology has been offered as a possible solution to the hand-held solution; however, this study showed about the same level of distraction with hands-free devices as hand-held. So, in reality, hands-free is no safer of an option for drivers.

6. Using Speech-to-Text Systems

Again a hands-free system, speech-to-text is designed to allow users to send text messages and emails while keeping both hands on the wheel. However, this technology was deemed significantly distracting and even risky by the study.

While there are a number of alternative options for hand-held devices and entertainment for drivers in the vehicle, research indicates that driving should be the primary focus. While activities such as listening to the radio or an audiobook aren’t a significant threat, other forms of communication certainly are. Distracted driving is a significant concern throughout the United States, including Pennsylvania.