Distracted Drivers Lack Focus Near California Schools


Oct 18, 2012, 09:59 ET from The Allstate Foundation

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Driver focus within automobiles passing near California schools has significant room for improvement as observed in an annual study conducted this week by the same students at risk from this distracted driving. Students monitoring nearly 70 intersections near high schools in 26 counties across the state for one hour Tuesday report more than 7,000 cases of distracted driving.

This hourly average of approximately 100 cases of distracted driving per intersection is consistent with the average recorded during last year's study. Traffic volume is not factored.

Student participants in this educational Roadwatch—funded by The Allstate Foundation and administered by the California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP)—observed a lack of driving focus ranging from talking and texting on the cellphone, to eating and smoking, and even one instance of a driver using his tablet computer. In three instances, drivers failed to stop at a red light.

Driven by a desire to improve traffic safety in their neighborhoods and to use the research for future safe driving campaigns locally, students compiled these startling statistics from among thousands of vehicles they observed with both attentive and distracted drivers. The top distractions while driving are not surprising. Each is avoidable.

- Eating or drinking


     30 - per site average

- Talking on cellphone


15 - per site average

-  Texting on cellphone


14 - per site average

- Personal grooming


9 - per site average

In 2011, the first year of this Roadwatch, more than 6,700 instances of distractions were recorded at 62 sites near California schools. Empowered by their research and armed with 2011 study results, students at Magnolia High in Anaheim successfully obtained funding to have a crosswalk and traffic light installed near their school. Students in Watsonville appeared before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and other traffic safety agencies and obtained priority ranking for the re-engineering of a local street to improve safety.

Distractions Defined
More than just cellphone use, distracted driving is categorized by California Highway Patrol as a range of activities that impact a driver's visual, auditory, physical or cognitive abilities when driving.

CFNLP organizes this Allstate Foundation-funded Roadwatch to raise awareness among adult and teen drivers and all communities about the importance of eliminating distractions while driving.

"Reducing distractions behind the wheel is something we all can do—it costs nothing and its savings are enormous," urges Phil Telgenhoff, Field Vice President of Allstate in California. "When we choose to drive safer, we improve the safety of everyone on the road at the same time."

"Engaging California's young people like this encourages their positive and healthy development and empowers them to become active leaders," says Jim Kooler, Director at CFNLP. "Programs like our annual traffic safety summit and this Roadwatch allow California youths to lead their peers in reducing distracted driving collisions."

Not Just Cellphones
Additional driving distractions observed by this week's Roadwatch participants:

- Extreme volume on radio 


     7 - per site average

- Pet on driver's lap  


4 - per site average

- Wearing headphones   


3 - per site average

- Smoking  


3 - per site average

Here are some county-by-county totals:

- San Joaquin County          

236 distractions per site (3)

- Ventura County

185 distractions per site (4)

- Fresno County

167 distractions per site (3)

- San Bernardino County

143 distractions per site (3)

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving accounted for one of every 10 U.S. traffic fatalities in 2010. In 2009, CHP reported 116 traffic fatalities caused by distracted driving in California.

Active in 54 counties statewide, CFNLP engages young people to become active leaders and resources in their communities.

About The Allstate Foundation
Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL). Through partnerships with nonprofit organizations across the country, The Allstate Foundation brings the relationships, reputation and resources of Allstate to support innovative and lasting solutions that enhance people's well-being and prosperity. With a focus on teen safe driving and building financial independence for domestic violence survivors, The Allstate Foundation also promotes safe and vital communities; tolerance, inclusion, and diversity; and economic empowerment. For more information, visit www.allstate.com/foundation.

SOURCE The Allstate Foundation