Hidden Distractions Behind the Wheel

In-vehicle technology use can create lingering distractions.

Your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel, but are you still distracted?

Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after drivers use voice-based technology to dial, change music or send a text message. At 25 mph, drivers travel the length of nearly three football fields during this time. AAA urges drivers to put down their phone and avoid distractions when behind the wheel.

Additional research shows drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times as likely to crash while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash. Despite the risk, drivers increasingly report using technology behind the wheel. Nearly half (49 percent) of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving and almost 35 percent have sent a text or email.

This behavior is in contradiction to the fact that nearly 80 percent of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is extremely dangerous, while nearly all believe that reading (96 percent) or typing (96.7 percent) a text or email while driving is extremely dangerous.

“We have created a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ culture on our roadways. Drivers understand the risk; they just don’t think they are the problem,” said Kimberly Schwind, senior manager, AAA Public Affairs. “With more than 3,400 people killed in distracted driving crashes each year, it is time for drivers to be accountable. We can save lives.”

AAA is committed to helping drivers curb the urge to engage in distracting behaviors behind the wheel. Any task that requires taking your eyes or attention off the road and hands off the wheel can present a dangerous risk on the roadway. That includes changing the radio, programming navigation or even enjoying a sandwich.

There are hidden dangers when using either a cellphone or in-vehicle technology. Mental distractions last longer than you think and can cause a crash.

You may think using voice-based technology to dial a friend, change music or send a text message while driving is safe. However, even those hands-free interactions can distract you for as long as 27 seconds after they end, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research.

To learn more about the AAA Foundation’s research on how vehicle manufacturers’ in-vehicle technology can create dangerous distractions for drivers behind the wheel, visit AAA.com/distraction.