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Distracted Driving a Leading Cause of Crashes

March 4, 2003 (03-025)

For more information, contact:
Rosalie Thornburgh or Pati Pomeroy
KDOT Bureau of Traffic Safety: (785) 296-3756

Talk to almost anyone who has been in a traffic crash and they’re likely to begin: “It happened so fast.”

Indeed, just a split second distraction can lead to a disaster on today’s often-crowded roadways, according to the Bureau of Traffic Safety of the Kansas Department of Transportation.

That makes concentration on the task at-hand – driving – imperative. While multi-tasking might be a valuable trait in a workplace, it doesn’t lend itself to driving.

According to a recent study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, each year an estimated 284,000 distracted drivers are involved in serious crashes. Distracted driving is believed to be a factor in up to 50 percent of accidents.

Common distractions cited in the study were adjusting a radio or CD player, talking with other occupants in the car, adjusting temperature controls, eating or drinking, talking on cell phones and smoking. Disciplining children, rummaging through purses, searching on the floorboard for a dropped item, studying a map or reading also are common distractions.

The Bureau of Traffic Safety offers these tips to discourage distracted driving:

  • When possible, pull over to use a cell phone. If you must talk on a cell phone while driving, consider purchasing a hands-free system.
  • Driving with your stereo cranked to a high volume can prevent a driver from hearing sirens or the honks of other drivers. Play your stereo at a moderate volume, and memorize your stereo controls so you don't have to look at it when changing stations.
  • Before you drive, make sure there are no loose items under the seats – such as cans or bottles -- that could roll out and possibly get lodged under the brake pedal if you come to a quick stop.
  • If you must eat while you drive, get something that’s not messy and that you can hold in one hand. Set your food up next to you before you take off and make sure you use a cup holder for your drink.

More information can be found on the Public Service Announcements page.