It's no secret that there are many factors you can't control that make driving dangerous, like bad weather, faulty cars and general bad luck. However, most accidents are actually preventable. A three-year study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that what we know to be distracting is actually even more dangerous than we thought, reported CBS.
The study, called the "Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study," looked at three years of footage taken in volunteer participants' cars, which were equipped with cameras and special sensors, reported TreeHugger. Reaching to grab something, being on the phone, texting, navigating a car's touch screen and being emotionally distressed were all shown to directly cause accidents.
"The distractions that take a driver's eyes away from the roadway for an extended period of time create the greatest crash risk," said Tom Dingus, the author of the study, according to CBS. The study showed that people engage in distracting behavior 68 percent of the time that they're behind the wheel, and that 75 percent of crashes have to do with a driver's error.
Dr. Karen Sheehan, a supporter of the study, said the findings are pretty shocking. "Since these people volunteered to be in the study and consented to be filmed, they are probably better drivers than non-volunteers. This is a scary thought because the study participants participate in plenty of less-than-model driving behaviors," said Sheehan, according to CBS.
"These findings are important because we see a younger population of drivers, particularly teens, who are more prone to engaging in distracting activities while driving. Our analysis shows that, if we take no steps in the near future to limit the number of distracting activities in a vehicle, those who represent the next generation of drivers will only continue to be at greater risk of a crash," said Dingus, according to EurekAlert.