Governor Robert Bentley has declared April Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Alabama. State data shows that distracted driving was involved in more than 17,000 vehicle crashes in Alabama in 2016, including 90 fatal crashes.
At the Center for Advanced Public Safety at The University of Alabama, research shows distracted driving is a serious, and sometimes deadly, problem.
CAPS Associate Director Rhonda Stricklin says it is likely a larger problem than what the data reflects.
“Really, everyone agrees that the problem is worse than the number shows in this category,” Stricklin said. “Distracted driving is very hard sometimes for the officers to know for sure if they were distracted, and so they can’t really put it on the crash report unless they know that.”
According to data from CAPS, in 2015 and 2016 in Alabama, there were 34,949 crashes in which distracted driving was noted as a factor. 169 of those were fatal crashes.
Over the two-year span, electronic devices were noted as being a factor in more than 5,400 crashes.
“Distraction can be a lot of things, but texting is probably the number one worst because it involves visual, manual, cognitive, all of those together,” Stricklin said.
Fatigue/asleep was also considered a distraction, and contributed to more than 6,400 crashes over the two-year span.
Distractions were also noted from number of different sources, including passengers, other distractions inside the vehicle, and those outside the vehicle.
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