According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, in 2011 there were 32,367 motor vehicle fatalities in the United States. The Center for Disease Control, in 2011, calculated that the cost of fatal crashes topped $41 Billion. In the 1970's, according to the National Institute of Health, alcohol was a factor in 60% of traffic deaths. In recent years, that percentage has dropped to 32%, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, according to study by Monash University in Australia. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), text messaging while driving creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. You may also be surprised to know that a hands-free cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use, also according to the VTTI. Many states have enacted laws requiring that drivers must use a hands-free device (Bluetooth) if they choose to talk on the phone while driving. Does that make sense? Finally, a study by Carnegie Mellon University showed that engaging in a secondary task, such as talking on a cell phone, reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%. These studies are instructive and we, as safety professionals, need to be aware of the hazards of distracted driving and what we can do to manage them.

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