RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Distracted driving — it’s more prevalent this time of year because people have a lot on their minds, and a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety pinpoints which drivers are more likely to drive distracted.
This time of year, holiday traffic is bad enough without adding in driving distractions.
“We define distraction as a person engaged in a secondary task most every time they drive,” said IIHS researcher Aimee Cox.
The IIHS study found “gig economy” employees who work job to job and parents are the worst offenders when it comes to distracted driving.
“We found 65 percent of our survey participants reported in engaging in at least one secondary task,” said Cox.
Those “secondary tasks” would include fiddling with navigation apps, putting on makeup, eating and even playing games on a smartphone while driving.
Doing any of those doesn’t take long to create a hazardous driving situation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says taking your eyes off the road to read a text for five seconds at 55 miles an hour is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed for those few seconds.
The IIHS study found parents are 50 percent more likely to engage in smartphone-related activities that distract from their driving and that sets a bad example.
“Parents really do influence their kids and parents should model safe driving behaviors,” said Cox.
Many cars now come with hands-free integration and other technology that takes much of the distraction out of driving.
CBS 17 Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia wanted to know if there was a way to get people to use the built-in features in their cars instead of taking their eyes off the road to deal with smartphones.
“Not everyone has access to newer vehicles with that sort of functionality,” said Cox.
However, most smartphones now have a do not disturb (DND) while driving feature which can make it less likely you’ll be tempted to take your eyes off the road.
The federal government says distracted driving caused nearly 1 million crashes in 2021 and resulted in more than 4,000 deaths.