Study identifies riskiest distractions for drivers in South Carolina

Most people in South Carolina are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, but a recent study outlines which behaviors are the riskiest.

It comes as no surprise that distracted driving poses a serious threat to people on the road. In South Carolina, there are laws in place that restrict what a motorist is permitted to do. For example, there is a texting ban in place for all drivers. However, unlike other states, South Carolina does not address other types of cellphone use.

Phones are not the only source of distraction. Simply changing the radio is considered a task that diverts the driver's focus from the road. A recent study outlines the riskiest behaviors people engage in while behind the wheel.

The study

Researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted a study that was published last year in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America." They installed monitoring devices in the vehicles of more than 3,500 people who, over the course of three years, were involved in more than 1,600 incidents.

The results show that drunk driving remains the most dangerous behavior for motorists to engage in. Next on the list? Distracted driving. Of the 905 motor vehicle accidents that resulted in either an injury or property damage, 68.3 percent involved some type of distraction. Additionally, they stated that drivers are distracted more than 50 percent of the time they are behind the wheel.

Weighing the risk

The most dangerous tasks a driver takes on while driving are those that require his or her eyes to leave the road, the study notes. In descending order, the riskiest driving behaviors - or those most likely to cause a crash - are the following:

  • Dialing a cellphone
  • Reading or writing something
  • Reaching for an object (other than a phone)
  • Texting
  • Reaching for a phone
  • Browsing on a phone

Researchers also determined that behaviors that are often portrayed as extremely dangerous turned out to be less benign. For example, interacting with children and grooming are often mentioned as risky, though the study did not find evidence to support that claim. In fact, they determined that people who have children in the vehicle tend to drive more safely.

Limiting distractions

The overall message of the study is that there must be an effort to limit distractions. Lawmakers in South Carolina could take measures to accomplish this, such as to ban handheld and hands-free device usage while operating a vehicle.

Ultimately, it is on the driver to act responsibly. Stow the phone in a place where it cannot be reached and avoid any tasks that take attention away from navigating the road. People who have concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in South Carolina.