“We found that 15 percent of drivers in the study were not paying attention and just over half of these (8.3 percent) were distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle,” said Dr. Jane Stutts, manager of epidemiological studies at the UNC center and author of the study. When drivers with unknown attention status were removed from the data, the percentage of distracted drivers rose to 12.9 percent.
Stutts will testify about the study at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., on May 9. She will be testifying before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit at 10 a.m.
The study found that drivers were most often distracted by something outside their vehicle (29.4 percent) followed by adjusting a radio or CD player (11.4 percent). Other specific distractions included talking with other occupants (10.9 percent), adjusting vehicle or climate controls (2.8 percent), eating or drinking (1.7 percent), cell-phone use (1.5 percent) and smoking (0.9 percent).