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  • Writer's pictureBig Rick Stuart

Even hands-free, phones and their apps cause dangerously distracted driving

Fatal crashes caused by driver distraction have not gone down significantly over time: Distraction caused 14% of fatal crashes in 2017 and 13% of fatal crashes in 2021. Given that these numbers are calculated based on police-reported crashes, many experts believe the actual number of crashes caused by driver distraction is much higher. For example, real-world crash data from teens indicates that 58% of their crashes are due to driver distraction.


These detrimental effects last even after you end your call. There is a hangover effect: You can remain mentally distracted nearly 27 seconds after you finish using your cellphone. At 65 miles per hour, you’ve traveled nearly half a mile in 27 seconds.

Research has shown that drivers using Level 2 automation, which combines adaptive cruise control with lane centering, are more likely to take their eyes off the road. Research also shows that watching a video or doing anything distracting while using these systems is unsafe–you stop looking at the road, and when you need to respond, it takes more time.

Some systems work to keep you focused on driving by monitoring your eye or head position to make sure you’re looking straight ahead. If your eyes are off the road for more than a few seconds, the systems alert you to bring your attention back to driving. This makes it difficult to get distracted by your phone.

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