The True Cost of Distracted Driving

When people think of distracted driving, a few comical images might pop into their heads (often from the movies). You may think of a young man peering out the window to see a beautiful woman walking on the sidewalk rather than paying attention to the road. You may think of someone applying make-up in their mirror while using their knees to steer. You may think of a guy shaving during a long commute. The truth is, the vast majority of distracted driving occurs due to texting or using phones while driving, which has resulted in increasingly dangerous consequences over the past several years. Not only that, but it is costing everyone a whole lot of money, directly or indirectly.

According to a federal study, distracted-driving-related crashes cost around $175 billion a year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates $46 billion in total economic losses due to distracted driving and $129 billion in societal harm costs. The largest cost, of course, is not in terms of economic losses but in terms of health and human life. Distracted driving incidents result in an astronomical number of hospital visits and deaths each year, and that number is only getting higher.

On the commercial side, distracted driving can come from smart devices, eating or drinking on the road, smoking or drug use, or it can be alcohol related (much the same issues facing normal drivers). The key difference is that the costs and dangers are much higher. Truckers carrying a load are not only putting themselves, their vehicles, and others at risk, but they are also placing a risk on the goods that they are carrying which could have far reaching impacts.

When people text and drive, everyone ends up paying. That’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter if it’s one driver in a fleet of trucks driving for a company or a teenager who just got his license—the danger and the cost are going to be the same. Not only for them but for everyone else too. With more and more smart devices hitting the market, the problem is likely to become worse, not better. That is, in terms of the direct economic impact in addition to rising insurance costs for everyone else resulting from those incidents.

Safety is a top priority for everyone, not just companies relying on drivers for deliveries but also for every driver that uses the roads. A split-second lapse of attention could not only cost thousands of dollars in repair costs, but it could also be a matter of life or death. The fact that the costs associated with these accidents are so high is only a secondary concern, albeit a big one. And when considering both factors, it should be clear that distracted driving is an issue which we all need to be concerned about.