Evidence of distracted driving has been documented by 100 "candid
cameras" trained on motorists for more than a year. It was just a detail of a research project, a landmark study of driver behavior that includes: reading while driving, dialing or using cellphones, putting on makeup, sleepiness, eating while driving, among others.
The four-year study, released in April of 2006, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administraion and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has found out that nearly 80% of automobile crashes and 65% of close calls involved distracted drivers in the midst of activity like eating, drinking, smoking, and using electronic devices.
The study found out that drowsiness might be far more prevalent as a cause of accidents that police statistics indicate - raising the risk of a crash at least fourfold.
Dialing was found to be more dangerous but was performed less frequently, whereas talking/listening was less dangerous but performed more frequently.
Among the findings:
While men are involved in more crashes, women were more likely to be
in accidents caused by inattention.
Dialing a cellphone is one of the more dangerous things a driver can do, but applying makeup is even riskier. The study found that dialing drivers had 2.8 times the crash or near-crash risk of fully attentive drivers, while those applying cosmetics were 3.1 times more dangerous than undistracted motorists.
Eating while driving seems marginally more dangerous than talking on a cellphone (1.6 to 1 odds vs. 1.3 to 1). Driving while driving - presuming the beverage isn't alcoholic - appears to add no risk. But if your soda goes tumbling, let it go. The most dangerous distraction identified in the study was reaching for a moving object, which increases the odds of a crash or close call almost ninefold.
The study found no evidence that smoking makes for more-dangerous drivers.
The cameras in the study focused on the driver's eyes, recording each glance that strayed from the road ahead. The research showed that when drivers took their eyes off the road for more than two seconds, their risks of a crash or near-miss increased.