Distracted Driving

Definition of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is defined as any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All types of distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. Some types of distractions include:

  • Adjusting vehicle controls
  • Cell phone use
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming
  • Reading (including maps)
  • Talking to passengers
  • Texting
  • Using navigation systems
  • Any combination of the above

Fatal Crashes Involving Distracted Driving

The following table demonstrates the number of fatal crashes and number of fatalities in the United States in 2011. Each segment is then broken down into percentages of fatal crashes caused by distracted driving. Within the distracted driving, the data is broken down even more to show the percentages of cell phone use.

Table of Fatal Crashes

The above table shows that there were a total of 29,757 fatal crashes in the United States in 2011. Within those fatal crashes 10% of the crashes were caused by distracted driving, and within distracted driving 12% of the fatal crashes were caused by cell phone use. It is likely that a total of 368 fatalities could have been prevented if Americans would understand how much danger they are putting themselves and the people around them in when they use their cell phone while driving. 

Americans need to be educated on the data that has been collected in order for them to understand just how much one text message could affect every single person around them.

Types of Distractions

Any type of distraction can affect a driver's performance. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) National Center for Statistics and Analysis, the top three types of distractions include; inattentive or lost in thought, cell phone use, and distracted by outside person, object, or event. The following table shows the top 10 distraction types involved in car crashes and the frequency of each type.

Table of Types of Distractions

Ways to Prevent Distractions While Driving

  • Do not eat or drink
  • Ensure passengers/children are wearing a seat belt before taking off
  • Ensure you are not drowsy
  • Keep your eyes on the road
  • Keep your hands on the steering wheel
  • Lock pets up in a crate
  • Put your phone in your purse/glove compartment

What Flagstaff Is Doing About Cell Phone Use While Driving or Bicycling

The City of Flagstaff's Transportation Commission first discussed the issue of using wireless communication devices while driving or bicycling in 2009. The Commission requested that the City Staff monitor any State or Federal legislation that was being proposed. There have been multiple versions of Distracted Driving Laws that have been proposed by the Arizona Legislature, and finally in 2012 at the Transportation Commission's request, the City Staff moved forward in drafting a local ordinance banning the use of wireless communication devices while driving.

9-01-001-0013 Use of Wireless Communication Devices While Vehicle or Bicycle Is in Motion Prohibited; Exceptions

  1. A person shall not operate a motor vehicle or a bicycle on a street, sidewalk or trail while using a handheld wireless communications device to compose manually, send or read a written message for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including but not limited to texting, emailing and instant messaging, while the motor vehicle or bicycle is in motion.
  2. This section does not apply to any of the following persons if the use of the handheld wireless communications device is made as part of their official duties:
    1. Law enforcement and public safety personnel.
    2. Drivers of authorized emergency vehicles.
  3. Enforcement and Penalties.
    1. Any peace officer may stop a motor vehicle or bicycle if the officer has reasonable cause to believe a violation of this section is occurring.
    2. A violation of this section is a civil traffic violation.
    3. A person found to be in violation of this section and not involved in a motor vehicle or bicycle crash is subject to a civil penalty of $100 plus any other penalty assessment authorized by law.
    4. A person found to be in violation of this section and involved in a motor vehicle or bicycle crash is subject to a civil penalty of $250 plus any other penalty assessments authorized by law.
    5. Violations of this section shall be administered pursuant to the procedures for civil traffic violations as set out in A.R.S. 28-1591 through 28-1601. (Ordinance 2014-20, Enacted, July 15, 2014)

Take the Pledge!

If you would like to take the pledge to be phone-free while driving please print the following certificate, sign it, and hang it up. Take pride in not texting and driving!

Take the Pledge (PDF)!

Further Information

Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website for more information on distracted driving.