One of the biggest causes of car and truck crashes is distracted driving. For that reason, it is important to understand the nature and the scope of it.

What are the types of distracted driving?

One is visual, which is taking your eyes off the road. As you would expect, this is a very common one. Another is manual, actually taking your hands off the wheel. Some people justify doing this by saying that they only do it for a second, but lives can be lost in a fateful second. A third is cognitive, which means that you aren’t keeping your mind on your driving. Let your mind wander and so will the wheel of your car or truck.

How many people are killed in crashes that involve a distracted driver?

In 2012, the total was 3,328. This was just a little bit less than the 2011 total, which was 3,360. In 2011, 17 percent of crashes in which one or more individual was injured involved distracted driving. That meant a total of 387,000 people injured in distracted driving crashes in 2011, a figure that increased to 421,000 in 2012.

What are common risk factors?

Texting is a key risk factor, and can draw drivers’ attention away from safely operating their motor vehicles for dangerously long periods. Reportedly, almost half of high school student drivers who are 16 years old or older engage in sending and reading texts and emails while driving. This is a major part of why those drivers account for the highest percentage of distracted driving fatal crashes. Parents should talk to their daughters and sons about this, making sure that safety will be prioritized over socializing.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Distracted Driving,” accessed Dec. 16, 2015